As I write this, I am high above the clouds on an airplane, and as always, I marvel that I can travel thousands of miles in relative comfort and ease in just a few short hours. How incredible that family can be visited, simchas attended and business taken care of in spite of geographical distances that used to take arduous days, weeks, and even months to transverse.
Sometimes there are delays and cancellations and the intense boredom and frustration of being stuck in a crowded airport lounge, but hopefully at the end of the day (and not the next one) you will be on your way to your longed-for destination, creating new experiences and memories as a tourist or visitor – or just returning “home sweet home” and your familiar surroundings and routines.
As we started taxiing from the gate, a voice introducing himself as the pilot announced that we might encounter turbulence during our flight. His voice was calm and matter of fact in tone, and though some of the passengers looked a bit concerned, I was not. I reasoned that if the man flying this marvelous flying machine is okay with wind gusts shaking us up – so am I. He’s “been there and done that” numerous times so if he’s not worried …
The plane does “rock and roll” at times but I am relaxed – even with all the free airplane coffee I continue to drink.
It is time to stretch my legs. I am in a middle seat, a situation I try to avoid as I like to walk up and down the length of the plane (which resembles a cigar with wings) in order to ensure circulation in my legs, and an aisle seat means I don’t have to disturb the person next to me.
Moving your legs every hour or so while in flight can potentially prevent a blood clot. Since the man next to me seems to be asleep, I stand in front of my seat and go up and down on my tippy toes 50 times. I read somewhere that this relatively quick exercise can extend your life!
I’m not sure if that is the case – but I imagine doing this movement will enhance blood circulation.
Usually when I “exercise” on an airplane I get curious stares from some passengers – even the occasional roll of the eyes. But I do not need their approval for what I am doing, nor does their disapproval stop me from continuing. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I have to do what is right for me – as long as it’s “ halachically kosher” and doesn’t negatively impact on others – and not worry too much about what others think.
Adopting that mindset took years in the making and it did not happen overnight or come easily. In our community, we aren’t actually encouraged to be yotzei min haklal, to be “different.” We are encouraged to conform. This is especially true for girls. You are supposed to place yourself in a preconceived mold. That is why, for example, at weddings, you see a sea of black or dark navy as the women and girls are dancing. It is rare to see anyone in pastels or bright colors.
However, after several decades, I finally started to do what “worked” for me – and it was actually deliciously liberating.
For example, when I go to a simcha, I eat what I want. Often, I am surrounded by very slim, well-dressed and coifed women who daintily nibble at their food, taking a small bite or two out of each course and self-righteously pushing away their plate. I can tell they are still hungry by the “nose up in the air” look they give me as I heartily bite into my meal.