Some Days, We Are Cosmically Jet-Lagged

I wake up.  Groggy and disoriented.  I lift my black cotton eye mask.  The cabin is still dark.  That hard to articulate no-noise noise of wearing earplugs on a plane reverberating in my head.  Like I am under water.  A combination of pressure and loud quiet.  Swimming around in my own little universe.  Not sure which way is up and which way is down.

Some sleep.  Not enough sleep.  But, more sleep than I bargained for.  Where am I?  I don’t sleep well on planes.

Where am I?

We left LAX past midnight.  Well past…  I’m usually in bed before nine.  Navigating traffic and the race to find my place giving me just enough of a jolt to stay alert.  Delirious.  Sometimes giddy.  But alert.

Keeping my eyes open until I could recline to try to sleep felt like what I imagine running the last mile of a marathon might feel like.  Fatigued.  Body, jelly.  A grueling slow motion, as if moving through mud.  Just…get…there…  (But, I wouldn’t know for sure…)

And, now, I’m here.

Where am I?

The screen says it’s 1 a.m. in Tokyo.  Several hours still remain in-flight.

Why am I going to Tokyo?

Five hours there.  Then four hours more to Shanghai.

Where am I?

My colleague tells me they don’t sleep well on planes either.  And, I tell them I actually think it’s great.  Exactly as it should be.

You kind of don’t want to sleep too too well.  Because it would keep you cemented in your old rhythm.  The time zone you just left. 

You kind of want to be in the wonky in-between state.  Not fully asleep, yet not fully awake.  Not fully rested, yet not purely exhausted.  This off-kilter in-between makes it easier to adjust when you arrive.  It eases the transition.  The discomfort of the messy middle mitigates some of the discomfort of arriving in the new place.

And then, it strikes me.  Maybe that’s why the universe makes things feel so wonky and uncomfortable as we experience transitions in our lives.  Maybe we need to be a little off-kilter and out of our comfort zone to optimally enter the next stage.  Maybe that discomfort is getting us ready.  For what’s next.  Whatever the leg of the metaphorical journey.

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