Ready For Takeoff

My favourite airport, Changi of Singapore! I swear I could live here.

I love airports. I always have, I’m not entirely quite sure why…there’s this sense of profound happiness I get when at an airport.

There’s a feeling of childlike joy, a sense of belonging in a strange way, although an airport is merely a transit between one destination and the next. There’s a sense of hope and excitement at the new adventure one is about to embark upon. Then there’s the calming effect. In some airports there is hustle and bustle, a constant level of low noise providing the backdrop to a relaxed atmosphere, in others a sheer stillness within that encapsulates a different kind of silence; an escape from the rigours of daily life. The former serves as a timely reminder you are on your travels. Within the latter there is a silent calm. Either way, you look around, and nobody knows anyone else. In some ways it’s nice to be surrounded by unknown faces hailing from different places, to be amongst humans yet away from them. You are not alone, yet you are. There are no mental worries, no thoughts of ‘Oh I need to pay x bill or make sure y is done’, no pressure to be anywhere, or anyone for that matter. Such peacefulness, on the whole, is reflected in the face of the people around you. They are in a state of limbo, of transition; either going home or leaving to what may potentially become their new home, whether for the short or long-term.

Glass surrounds you. Personally speaking, I love glass. In all likelihood my future house is going to have plenty of it, it looks beautiful underneath the sparkling sun and allows daylight to reach through, heat rays warming the surface of your skin. If the time has already elapsed for glorious sunshine, synthetic lights along the ceilings are aplenty, complementing the smooth reflective tiles of the floor. Cafés line your eyesight, and book stores. Book stores. How often do we read books nowadays? Not enough, is my personal opinion.

On a side note, the fast-paced technological world we currently inhabit has unquestionably brought us many advantages, but in conjunction there are old traditions that are being forgotten in the wake of our new, supercharged fingers which hit electronic keys at robotic speed. When was the last time you wrote somebody a letter? A postcard? Think about it. How about the last time you picked up a novel?* Does digital imagery truly capture romance the way developed photographs once did? Is a routine ‘happy birthday’ on your Facebook wall/timeline preferable to hearing it in person to your face, or at least over the phone? We are losing the human touch; technology in many ways is desensitising us.

*(And no by the way, e-books don’t count. Some even say they will wipe out physical books in so many years’ time, though I sincerely hope not.)

So, back to our airport. People, coming and going. The world moves, yet it sits still. All that glass, like a bubble sheltering you from the outside world and all its imperfections. Greenery. Next time you’re passing through an airport, stop and take notice of all the plants dotting the sides of your path. Artificial in their environment, natural in their existence. Fountains, the sound of which relaxes the ears, healing waters for tired spirits. The PA system, accompanied by soft keys rising up and down half octaves. And then, the scents that waft through the air every time you walk past a duty free shop. See? The words ‘duty free’ alone make me slightly happy somewhere deep down. It’s strange.

Perhaps it stems from the result of years of a slow conditioning process, attributed to travelling with my family for holidays each year, that each time I reach an airport now I know I am going somewhere I will enjoy – if only due to taking a moment off what I’m leaving behind. Or perhaps it is born out of the human desire for change: contrary to some schools of thought I believe we all intrinsically desire something new. Temporal gaps amongst us differ for when we welcome such changes, but ultimately at some stage we have all said we’ve ‘had enough’ and ‘just need to get away’. Airports are a verification of the reality pertaining to said change.

Whether we overcome the fears that hold us back within our comfort zones of what is ‘familiar’ to us, to accept the new challenges beyond us which linger just outside the doorway, is a different matter however. I suppose this is what determines the nature of the time spent on the other side if you like, outside the electronic exit doors of the destination airport. Are we truly getting away? Or will we live life much the same as we do now, once we are already there? I believe this also has a bearing upon the gravity of your footsteps towards an airport itself, towards ideological freedom. For some, uncertainty can breed excitement and anticipation at the idea of the unknown, for others routine proves controlled and therefore desirable.

Either way, airports are just as much a section of our holidays as the actual destination themselves. Whilst some may not be the beautiful steel & glass hybrid constructions that entail the mainstay of such airports as Changi, they in their own right will at least hold the distinct similarity that they are transitional areas, leading you to the next hours of your life. It is equatable in many a way to moving forwards, stepping out of the past and into the everlasting bright lights that hold our future. We throw aside personal convictions, disregarding the thought that we may be chasing the quintessential chimera. Airports mirror such an idealistic view in their seemingly sempiternal ways. Always a residence but never with residents, in the truest sense of the word. Promise always lies close by when plane tickets are in hand. Bags have been packed, flights have been booked and goodbyes have been said. Logic is lost for a moment, the hope for greener grass burns ever brighter, and the promise of an exciting future lies near. In the meantime, we can afford to take a breath, indulge in our senses and enjoy the journey there. “sJ“

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