The thing about writing…
Is that words can be put next to each which, if they were speech, have the potential of sounding pompous, put on and out of place;
Is that it can happen anywhere… on a plane- as I am -in a bus or on a boat, or even better, on a beach (I feel like Dr Suess in Green Eggs and Ham);
Is that it allows you to make sense of your thoughts, to feel like you’ve touched the final tape on the track, and then to move on;
Is that, even without a sound, it can cascade like a waterfall into the mind of someone else and impact in a way you may never know how;
Is that it allows the emotion that stings behind your eyes and struggles over the lump in your throat to spill onto the page. And stay there;
Is that it connects you to people that you love and even those that you don’t know that you may begin to love; and you will attract new loves and lose ones you thought you had. And it doesn’t matter anyway;
Is that it teaches you to read and it inspires you to think.
I’m reading Ian McEwan’s ‘The Children Act’:
“..a molecular event ballooned like an exploding universe, out into the wider scale of human misery…”
The passage describes the tragedy of Siamese twins and the dilemma of separation. I put down the book and pick up a writing pad as I fly over the beautiful terrain of the Southern Cape, the edge of the white surf outlining the blue beyond, the blues and greens and browns of the patterned land marked out below like a miniature model in an architect’s office. And I try to imagine the terror, the utter chaos in the minds of the 150 passengers in the A320 jet plummeting over the French Alps.
“It’s 10 minutes to landing”. The cabin stewardess’ voice.
She walks down the aisle, the engines change their purr, people shuffle behind me in their seats, their seat belts click. A friend across the aisle downs her drink, puts her book back into her bag. The low tones of conversation of the family behind me are muffled. My eyes start watering – I’m thinking of my own 15 year old, like those in the plane over the Alps. My ears pop, the wing sections of the plane steal out, the balding head of the gentleman a few rows ahead of me turns to look out the window. There’s a loud hydraulic noise – where is it coming from ? Are the wheels being folded down already? The plane tilts slightly. I’m trying to figure out where I am.
And the seconds keep ticking.
I glance at the sea – which beach is that? The red roofs start to multiply, the long white buildings appear more regularly. The mountains come into view. I stare down into the crevices, images of debris scattered over metres still in my mind. My ears block again. I hold my nose and breathe out. Pop.
We pass over the highway, the cars scurrying like ants in both directions. Sounds are muffled but get louder for a few seconds as the wing sections expand even more. My friend has started reading again. Buildings are looking bigger, I read CTP Printers on the roof.
“Cabin crew your seats for landing please”.
I’m slightly more tense, heavier in my seat. My feet move forward in my shoes, The ground rises up and I wonder when it’s going to happen. I grip the arm rest. The wheels touch down with a jolt, the engines scream and the tray tables rattle.
Ten minutes is a long time. It was eight minutes in the case of the plummeting German Wings Airline.
And then it must have felt something like “an exploding universe”, the pieces of which have scattered “out into the wider scale of human misery.”