Twelve hours from now, I will be in Los Angeles waiting for my flight to Sydney. Sydney is 13 hours ahead of LA, and the flight is 15 hours long, so that means in theory I will try to stay awake as long as possible and then sleep the second half, so I will be somewhat rested when I arrive in Australia at 7:30am.
If Lynn is reading this she is probably laughing, because she knows I can barely stay up past 9pm. But I have been slowly moving my bedtime forward in anticipation of this trip, and last night I was awake until 1:30am—probably for the first time since I was a teenager.
I downloaded an app called Timeshifter that claims to help people shift their wake/sleep schedules ahead of long-haul trips. I just couldn’t bear the thought of staying indoors with the blinds drawn to block out the sun during the day, and drinking coffee at 3:00 in the morning. So I deleted the app and concocted a do-it-yourself program. I’m not great at math so I may have it all backwards. I fully expect to get no sleep on the plane and arrive completely exhausted.
As is my habit—and I recommend this to anyone—I use a big trip as a deadline to really get in shape so I will have energy and strength for lifting and pulling bags and walking everywhere—and staying awake. For the last seven weeks I set a goal for myself to swim for 45 minutes once a week, bike 20 miles a week, lift weights twice, do yoga twice, and walk two or three times. I am happy to report I stuck to this plan so now I can let myself go.
Yesterday after work I went for a swim even though I Really Did Not Want To. I am still a crap swimmer. I have no endurance; rare is the instance I can do the crawl for a full pool length. I always tell myself, “It’s okay to go slow” but that gives me the sensation I am sinking. So then I flail and thrash about and am soon winded. I do a half dog paddle, half crawl the rest of the way, gasping for breath.
Which brings me to the What Ifs. What if my lousy swimming is due to having undiagnosed lung cancer? As usual, I think about all the possible things that could go wrong before or during a big trip. This is not helped by the half dozen comments I’ve received from well-meaning people warning me about crocodiles, sharks, and poisonous things in the desert.
What about you? Would you rather be attacked by a shark or a croc? I’d take a shark any day. I think it would be a quick death, whereas crocs pull you under water while you’re still alive and munch on you at their leisure. Plus, you can punch or kick a shark and maybe they’ll back off, or at least that’s the lore.
But my mind is not limited to savage wild animal attacks. What if I stub my toe and break it today, and the doctor says I cannot fly with a broken bone? What if someone hacks into my bank accounts while I’m camping in the desert and cleans me out? What if someone breaks into my house while I’m away and steals…my plants or my 10-year-old TV?
Most dreaded of all: What if my flight turns into another Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
While all this is whirling around in my head I will carry on doing what needs to be done, including putting my plants in the bathtub so they’ll live without me for a month, fishing the goldfish out of the backyard pond and delivering them to a neighbor who has a year-round pond, calling my mother, going for a walk, packing, unplugging all my appliances, and cleaning out my car because I am renting it to someone while I’m gone.
What an exciting life I lead! I really am fortunate. Even if the plane does go into a death spiral over French Polynesia, I will have had a fantastic time up until then.