Travelling home from Wales to Northern Ireland to see my family for Easter something happened that I witnessed really captured the fragility of the human condition and made me face the reality of our existence as the human race.
My flight home was delayed for two hours because of high winds and also engine malfunctions, but finally getting on the plane late at night thinking I could read some of my books for my dissertation to pass the time. The cabin crew were coming around with their trolley for snacks and drinks and were getting closer to me the woman next to me in her mid fifties was asleep and so seemed like everyone else on the plane. This was when the turbulence started rocking the plane up and down, suddenly the seat-belt sign came on and at this same moment the lights went completely off in the plane. The cabin crew looked around and then the cart went flying spilling a cup of tea over me and smashing into the back of the plane. Everyone woke up and was in a panic. It was a thunderstorm outside and the woman beside me started jolting then she started having a panic attack as did many others. She asked me if she could hold my hand I said of course hoping it would calm her down. As the turbulence got worse I had to get her breathing deeply again but she was in a mental state which I couldn’t free her from. Seeing this woman who is a stranger to me need to hold my hand and help her through the idea that she thought she was going to die made me realise a lot how delicate we are as humans. She thought it was the end for her and was crying and loosing breath but needed comfort from anyone even a stranger like me. Seeing someone in that state mentally and how it impacted on the physical body, breathing and crying was really integrating reflecting back on it. Coming face to face to a person feeling like they were going to die in that moment was terrifying and enlightening. The way she looked and how she forced her energy of pure loss of control of her own existence into my hand I could feel her pain as if I was watching her being slaughtered from the inside out.
She eventually calmed down after I got her a glass of water and the turbulence stopped. She started explaining her panic attack in detail of how it felt for her. She said that she thought she was going to die and that she felt like it was the end for her, so her mental state caused her to go into this frenzy of almost giving herself a heart attack because she could feel her “life flashing before her eyes”. As an outsider trying to help her and seeing her condition made me see how it effected her from the visual outsider and also try and understand her experience from the way in which she described the situation within her mind. She couldn’t stop shaking even when we landed I started to talk to her about her family to try to calm her down and I think this distraction worked. The reminder of her family and better times she has had within her life as she explained things like her daughters graduation day and where she lives stabilised her. You could see that this was one of the worst experiences she has ever had and for me seeing this and reflecting back on this moment makes me see how fragile we really are and how we all are wounded from within as well and our outer body reflects on it. In some ways we try to release it physically by holding someones hand to make your self feel that your not alone and crying, how the body oozes water out of our eyes as a way of removing the negative energy from the body and freeing it.
I feel this experience on reflection has made me really come to terms with what I am talking about with my dissertation of how we are all very fragile forms that crumble and are weak. This and many other moments in my life will make me want to further my understanding of the human condition both mentally and physically through writings and essays from physiologists and psychologists and how artists encapsulated these ideas into their work.