In the wake of the Germanwings tragedy, we all come together to do what we do in these scenarios. We read headlines. We see images. We hear officials discussing the details, the specifics, the questions that receive a "no comment" and we are lifted into a seat on that plane through descriptions of the descent and those last screams before final impact. We imagine that final breath. The families. The rescuers. The mountain. We hear the mountain's silence. We think of faith.
And in the self-centered way survive, we then think of ourselves. For me, I think to my first kiss.
Pilots, much like doctors, carry with their title a degree of ethos. Their title shouts an expectation of character. As a child, doctors were distant figures of knowledge and power. They didn't have a house. Or a family. They lived and slept at the doctor's office. It wasn't until I met my best friend in high school, whose father was a doctor, that I spent time with a doctor in a non-office setting. The depth of his heart, his quirkiness, and his constant quest for more knowledge, made doctors infinitely more human to me.
I once thought I loved a pilot. He was my first kiss midway through my college career. He was stationed in a different state and as our short-lived romance crumbled around us like a disappointing scone, so dry it deteriorated in our hands, it hit me: he was flawed like everyone else. Even though the military trusted him with flying million dollar equipment and even though he was smart and witty and handsome, he was still capable of hurting me. He had an ego. His ego hid insecurities. He had pain from his childhood, fear for his future, and an obvious desire to be loved. It's funny looking back on it now, but at the time it was oddly unsettling for me to realize the next airplane I boarded would have a pilot equally complex as this man I thought I loved.
I used to see pilots almost as cardboard cutouts. But catching a glimpse into the complicated psyche of this one pilot I once kissed has leveled the playing ground for me when I board a plane. As in, well shit, we're all in this together I guess. I'm a little fucked up, you're a little fucked up, let's cross our fingers and hope this bird lands on the other side of the trip. I suppose this is the closest I get to faith.
I didn't grow up in one particular religion. A therapist once asked me "without faith, or some higher connection, how do you cope with all the things that go on in this world...there is a lot of pain and horror." This made me cry. But, then again, most things make me cry. It's true though. For those of us who don't prescribe to a traditional religion it can be difficult to process the world we live in. People can be really shitty. And when a seemingly stable pilot points the nose of a plane into a mountain, taking all of his trusting passengers with him, well shoot.
I've recently had a lot of conversations about trust and faith with the people closest to me. I'm at an age where a lot of people are getting married, having babies, or buying homes. The question I keep coming back to: How do we know this won't come crashing down around us?
Whether it's a pilot, a doctor, or someone leaning in for a first kiss, we show faith. We step from that stairwell onto the aircraft. We kiss a loved one before going in to surgery. We rise on our toes to meet someones lips. And through these acts, we find ourselves closer to the sun.