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The Whisper of the Window Seat

The more I travel, the more I believe there are two types of people in this world: those who would block out all the noise and retreat into themselves, and those who are actively engaged with everything and everyone around them. This might be best observed on a plane, where the window seat becomes a portal to the universe for those actively looking out the window, or alternatively, closed the entire flight that the traveller may forget that they’re propelling tens of thousands of feet above the earth in an aluminum tube. Take those two travelers and bring them into a room or a garden and I’d bet most would behave similarly.

I’d like to believe that I’m actively engaged in the world, but still own noise cancelling headphones and resent the person in front of me for reclining their seat. I celebrate the input I seek from the world, yet resent encroachment from that which I don’t. Does that make me complex, or practically engaged? I’m a work in progress either way; with stoicism as a lens for which to see the world.

Given the choice, would you choose an aisle seat over a window seat? Would you take one for the team and sit in the middle seat? These are choices that say a lot about us. The aisle offers flexibility—you can stand up any old time you want to so long as that fasten seatbelt sign isn’t illuminated. Yet you’re constantly encroached upon by (seemingly) every person bumping into you as they pass by. There’s joy but also despair in the aisle seat, presented to you in a jolt just as you doze off.

That middle seat must be suffered. You know exactly what you’re in for, and usually, that vision is realized. There’s something very stoic about traveling in the middle seat. Amor fati—love of fate. We accept the universe as it comes to us. All we can do is cross our arms and take the air miles. If you’re lucky, the person in the window seat is a kindred spirit and has the shutter open for you to catch a partial view of what might have been.

The more I travel, the more I want the window seat. Sure, you’ve got to manage your bladder trips wisely, but otherwise you’re in a place of least possible encroachment under the circumstances with the most opportunity for wonder just an open shutter away. We’ve all got such a short trip in the big scheme of things, why not be open to experience as much as possible? Everything but that reclining seat, anyway.

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