If Scotty could beam me up like his Captain Kirk and transport me anywhere in the world, I'd be game. New Zealand or Tibet, no destination would be too far. As it is, I now find myself weighing the hours spent on an airplane against the joy of being in a foreign country. All those hours of being crammed into a pressurized cabin filled with stale air, pressed up against somebody's armpit, contemplating how many times one can acceptably ask ones seat mate to move in order to go to the bathroom, has made me a more measured traveler.
Thankfully our most recent return trip from Europe was less claustrophobic than the one on the way there. That's because there were only sixty-something passengers on the enormous jet bound for Miami. I know this because I overheard the flight attendants gleefully contemplating how easy the nearly empty flight would be. This later proved to be naive as we stepped off the plane and were met with a half dozen or more police officers. "What's going on?" I asked Micah, as a police officer with a pad and pen questioned a flight attendant, and the others stood on the jet bridge holding the arms of two women they had taken into custody. "I have no idea," he said. And we didn't. Our ten hour flight was spent sleeping, watching inflight movies, and drinking as much water as we possibly could, completely oblivious to whatever nearby illegal acts were being committed.
I spent much of the flight watching "Crazy, Stupid, Love." It played twice. And both times I laughed during the scene where Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling) takes Cal (Steve Carell) shopping to update his sad dad outfit. Between his enormous jeans and polo shirt, both about two sizes too big for his body, Cal is a man who no longer believes in himself. His wife has left him, he has low self-esteem, and he sees no point in trying. "Be better than the Gap," says Jacob to Cal. He repeats it a second time, "Be better than the Gap," and then makes Cal repeat it as well, "I'm better than the Gap." Now this isn't some diatribe against the Gap. I've shopped at the Gap. Micah swears by Gap jeans and will buy nothing else. And I'm sure Cal could look quite nice in Gap clothes that actually fit him. No, the Gap is a metaphor for the ways one unknowingly, unwittingly loses site of one's self. It's a slippery, sneaky thing that happens when we tell ourselves we can be this much and no more. That we can have this much and no more. Jacob wants Cal to believe he is worth a bespoke suit. Jacob wants Cal to believe in himself.
It can be a revelation to finally fit in one's clothes, or one's life.
I'm not suggesting we should all run out and get ourselves an expensive tailor-made suit or dress. Unless of course that's what we've been dreaming of for years but tell ourselves it's too expensive or too fancy or we can't possibly pull it off. In which case, yes, go get yourself the outfit of your dreams. Because it seems to me that most of us unknowingly, at some point or another, place limits on what we do, we who are, and what we desire. Some part of our life may be ill-fitting but we've lived with it for so long we no longer see that it's too big for us, or too little. Or maybe we know something doesn't fit but we've lost our confidence and don't see the point in trying. I say to you, please do. Be better than the smallest, most fearful version of yourself.
I'm trying, one day at a time to see myself as a writer. It's scary and I'm forever losing and gaining confidence. Some days I don't see the point in trying. I know the temptation of not wanting to create something because I'm still beginning or because no one in the world will ever see it. And because there's always the possibility I will fail. But I keep going because I believe that in trying we discover our best selves.