Sunday, March 16, 2008

I believe I can fly!

Published March 16, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I, Sarah E. Wilson, being of sound body and questionable mind, do hereby leave my last will and testament. To my fiancé, I leave my iPod, five semi-rowdy children, and all of the cash currently on my person ($4). To my children, I leave my genetically enhanced sense of humor and personal taste in music, my, ahem, dignified nose and unruly hair, and enough life insurance to get them through one semester of college...if they share books. To my readers, I leave the memories. Thanks for those.

Do not be dismayed or worried. I’m not dying of cancer or depressed and planning to do something drastic. I just wanted to cover my bases before I board a plane tomorrow.

At this writing, I am fewer than 24 hours away from the flight that will either result in my safe arrival in North Carolina for my sister’s wedding or my tragic and untimely death. At the time of your reading, I am fewer than 12 hours away from the flight that will bring me safely home or call me home to Jesus. At this point, it will be another week before you even know if I survived my adventure unless you know me personally or see footage on the news tonight of the burning debris that was my plane.

I know someone out in Readerland is shaking his or her exasperated head and telling me the statistics show that air travel is much safer than travel by car. To that person, I’d like to say two things: A) I can’t hear you. You’re talking to a newspaper, and I’m likely dead by now. B) Statistics only mean something to the people on the RIGHT side of the statistic in question. If I end up being one of the unlucky few, no one’s going to console my grieving family with comforting words like, “I’m sorry for your loss, but actually, statistically speaking, flying is the safest way to travel. Sarah has passed on, but millions of other people DIDN’T die in a plane crash today. Isn’t that encouraging?”

My fear of flying corresponds closely with my fear of riding roller coasters. When I’m on a roller coaster, I feel a thrill of excitement. And then the attendant fastens the safety apparatus and I realize there’s no way out. I think, Why am I doing this? WHY am I doing this? This is completely stupid! I am going to die today.

About this point, I say a little prayer: “Dear God, I know I’m being terribly stupid right now, so I probably don’t have any right to ask you for anything, and I’m sure that random act of kindness I performed earlier today doesn’t really make up for this random act of idiocy, but if you could please just keep me alive until this ride is finished, I would really appreciate it.” Obviously, I’ve made it out alive every time, but I’m sure it’s been close a time or two.

Tomorrow’s prayer will likely go something like this: “Dear God, I know I shouldn’t be putting my life into the hands of people who have no regard for your most basic laws. I know I shouldn’t trust those sinful people who believe gravity is more like a guideline. Please forgive me. Gina is getting married, so here I am inside this blasphemous piece of flying metal. I’d really like to be there for Gina’s wedding and still be around for my own, so if you could just keep me alive until this awful, heretical contraption lands, I will spread the good word to everyone within driving distance of me.

“And God…it may be too much to ask, but if you could keep the pilot alive too…well, that would be great.”