Any Mouse, Ridin’ the Gypsy Wind.


The kid asked, as kids will do, the question requiring a straight face and a kind answer: What’s “any mouse?”

Well what do you mean? Give it to me in a sentence.

Like when there’s a quote, and the person who said it is listed as “any mouse.”

Any mouse, indeed. Who isn’t? How funny is that really? Don’t think about it too long, but it’s not only who you are, but where you’re going–and who’s taking you there.

And getting there is a rat race:

Big Skinner box, the cheese is at the gate, then on-board, a seat. You take it on faith: though you’re “any mouse” here–even though to the security guy looking at you naked on a screen you’re really anything but–regardless, you’ll be more than that there. And there is wherever and whomever you valued (and vice versa) enough to justify the faceless gauntlet between here and there.

And where is there? Where you’re going–where they know you, value you beyond the quantitative “you” of weight and price and carbon composition. As you.

Well kinda sorta you–more quantitatively, as that cryptic bar code that lists stuff aboutย  (destination, bags, connections, weight, number) rather than the flesh-and-blood qualitatively you most appreciated there–or you wouldn’t be going, right? You won’t be just any mouse when you get there.

That’s worth launching into the stratosphere for, you’d have to hope. You paid your pound of flesh, endured the hauling (bags weigh a ton!), the purging (that won’t go through security!), the prep. Boarding is that moment that divides the waiting from the going.

And who is it that makes the going happen? Well, any mouse, once again. Don’t know if you’re blind and I’m invisible or vice versa, but either way works just fine. You might as well be asleep as in surgery, because you won’t see me anyway, if I can help it. Flying is what I do, but you’re why I do it. We don’t really need to meet, do we? Just need to get it done.

I love being any mouse, because while what I do is because of where you want to go, it’s most importantly, a large part of who I am. Let’s be any mouse then, shall we?

Sometimes you overhear stuff going on beyond a wall and you know, yup–they’re there.

Sneak preview, yeah, we are. We have a lot of similar stuff front and back, don’t we? Not a lot of extra space either place.

Which is the reality of putting a bullet into the sky, you have to know, where weight and size are critical. Nobody has a lot of elbow room. Kind of bought the ride but not the space, you know? And you have screens in back to help you forget where we are and what we’re doing

while I have a bunch of them to keep me engaged in what you’re trying not to notice.

Silent partners, aren’t we? You divert, I engage. You ride, I fly. Together, we drag a knife across the sky and leave a puffy rumply scar that heals quickly nonetheless.

You can’t see that? Sideways ain’t always the best view. Are you even looking? No? Because you’re looking here:

Aren’t you? Good. Then I can get on with what I do. Getting there is my reason for being here–but being “there” means little to me. I’m not staying anyway and if you asked me later where I was, I probably could even tell you. It doesn’t matter to me.

Rather, I’m all about the fire.

A thousand degrees, fifty thousand pounds of thrust, let’s roll. Every minute, every vertical foot, every thousand miles one at a time, I’m on it–so you don’t have to be. Climb, climb, cruise, climb; lather, rinse, repeat. Route, reroute; guess-timate–call on your years of appraising the sky and what it might hold–outsmart it; the sky doesn’t care. But I do.

All the while, I’ve got eyeballs out watching the sunset giving the horizon a fat lip.

Rumpled sky having trouble getting settled into night. A thousand miles later, off the nose, the moon just punched the night sky in the face, rising bloody red at first but then that alabaster gleamy mottled ball that won’t shut up. No excuses for bad landings tonight.

I keep an eye above, thinking of the far-off jewels flung across the sky; cirrus like a gauzy scarf dressing up old pals like Cassipoea and Orion. But I still find ’em, think about jewels, priceless, and as far away as that. That’s something to savor and not forget.

Keep your window shades drawn because it’s about time for the feature film–it actually varies with the compass direction of the flight (did you know that?) in the Main Cabin. Miles, courses, frequencies, fuel burn, oxygen, generators–I’ve got it figured down to a rat’s ass:

I’ll take care of time and tide for you–fuel’s a’burning, I’m keeping count, ticking off the miles, sweeping 600 miles of sky ahead looking for trouble to avoid.

I’ll let you down easy, slow you down, deal with the thousands of foot-pounds of kinetic energy we owe now because we opened the double-cans of whupass on the runway hours back:

Ah, love those two, the way they bite the air and rocket us forward and up. But no worries downline, fellow mouse, I’ll land you there, wherever that is for you, and you can get off.

Me? Always another “there” to fly to, an excuse to light the fires and climb as far above this world as possible. There? Not so much, but you go ahead.

Getting there, flying–that’s my thing.ย  Looking for me? Keep an eye out for any mouse, riding that gypsy wind. That’s not just what I do, it’s who I am.

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13 Responses to “Any Mouse, Ridin’ the Gypsy Wind.”

  1. That was simply beautiful! Thank you for the beautiful imagery and the breathtaking photos. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Flying is what I do, but youโ€™re why I do it. We donโ€™t really need to meet, do we? Just need to get it done.”

    Now I know you like to be invisible to the SLF–you’ve said it plenty of times–but…but why is it that some of us feel the need to search you out, look you in the eyes, smile, and say thank you? I guess it is the same need to see the surgeon days before she cuts you open or the need to meet your anaesthetist before he puts you into a “near death” sleep.

    The connection. The “thank you for taking care of me, my life…I’m not any mouse, I am more than a bar code…a weight…a piece of freight. Truly, thank you, for what you do”…from one soul to another.

    Look for those “any mouses”. ๐Ÿ™‚ We appreciate your efforts.

    • Thanks for being the seer and visionary thinker you are. I’m humbled, as always, and grateful.

      • Aw…it was nuthin’

        Oh…and those “any mouses” won’t be asking you if you know where the washrooms are. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yeah they will–so I’ll continue to avoid eye contact, except for old folks, kids and those who don’t speak the language. To everyone else, I’d like to remain any mouse.

  2. Deb Cheney Says:

    This is a beautiful piece, Chris. Poetry, really. “Silent partners, arenโ€™t we? You divert, I engage. You ride, I fly. Together, we drag a knife across the sky and leave a puffy rumply scar that heals quickly nonetheless.” I have never noticed the poetry in jet trails but will now.

    • Deb– Writing this was kind of a discovery evolution. I realized, “Who am I kidding? There’s no ‘there’ for me, just getting there.” Flying’s it for me–destinations, not so much.

  3. blackwatertown Says:

    Lovely writing. And reassuring to one who’s shortly to fly to New York.

  4. blackwatertown Says:

    Er… Saw this one and thought of you:

    Pilot Conversation

    ORD Approach: “United 143 best forward speed to the marker. You are number one.”

    United 143 (male): “Roger, balls to the wall.”

    ORD Approach: “American 245, you’re number two behind a United 737. Follow him. Cleared visual at your best forward speed.”

    American 245 (female): “Well, I can’t do balls to the wall, but I can go wide open.”

    Radio silence …

    Unknown male pilot: “Is American hiring?”

  5. Funny! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. When the functional envirnment is calm and sedate, enjoy the fun. When it gets even a bit tense, you do NOT want your remarks on that tape. You cannot pull over and park at FL300, or even FL-anything. If you made VR and Positive Climb, your are flying – until you come down. As an experienced PAX, I’m a Big Fan of controlled landings. -C.

    • 767 Driver Says:

      Cedar Dude: WTF is that gibberish? How about you sit down in back and keep your feet off the seats? And no more schnaps when you’re posting a comment–it makes you look like the kind of crazy we’d rather not board.

  7. Ok. I must admit. I got distracted by all the pretty pictures and forgot to read your words!!!!!! I shall be returning in a little while to comment on your words!!!! My favourite pictures were the ones looking down. Thank-you!!!!!

  8. You are a pilot poet!!!!! In fact, I do not think I have every met a pilot who was not able to express themselves like a poet before. Beautiful post, and not just your pictures!!! Your words most of all!!!!

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