I remember on the flight from Helsinki to Toronto this past summer, there was a thunderstorm in Toronto that we were flying into. Clearly there was a lot of turbulence, and though I’d been on many planes and never before would have said I was afraid of flying, I was pretty damn scared. It didn’t help that two seats over from me, a lady was having panic attacks throughout the flight though she, too, had been on flights before without an issue. So for a long time I listened to a Russian lady try to calm down (in English) this Italian speaking woman who was freaking out. The tail end of our flight was the worst. I was sitting alone trying to calm down. It got so bad that at one point I even had solidarity with God that I would die but that that was okay. I’d accepted my “fate”. So there I was with the Italian fiance, the woman with the panic attacks, and the Russian lady all together, trying to cope with what was going on. But on the other side of the plane, in the same row, two Russian kids were laughing their heads off. As if on a roller coaster, every time the world seemed to crash within the walls of the plane, they threw their arms up, shrieked with laughter, and looked over to the Russian lady (though I’m not sure all three of them were related) with pure glee. After some very long minutes of shallow breath and hopeless prayer, everyone noticed the kids and began to giggle at them. They made it into a show. They turned the tragedy into a comedy. God, how I wish I could be like those kids. Tiny heroes, they were. There was no barrier of language, no cultural boundaries. We were all one body of people, laughing at the misfortune of a thunderstorm.
(Sidenote: the Italian lady was fine in the end)