My fear of flying kicked in the moment I entered the queue for security. Tingling limbs. Kaleidoscopic vision. The gloopy sensation of walking through a nightmare. The plan was to fly to NYC to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor and catch up with some old friends. I had not flown by myself in a decade, and by the time I approached the jetway, I was sweat-soaked and sick. My brain was a fire alarm telling me not to get on the plane. Reimburse so-and-so for the ticket. Enjoy a quiet weekend at home. Not a big deal. I turned back, shouldering past confused passengers. Then I boomeranged around a trash can and hurried onto the jetway.

My brain is ridden with omens and ghosts and catastrophic visions, which I'm beginning to understand is the squealing of a misfiring organism determined to protect itself, throwing up every possible reason to flee. An inauspicious flight number. The sound of the door closing. The metal roar of the engines. Turbulence. Just the thought of these things is enough to send my nerves into Stone Age terror: shallow breath, constricted vision, a mad urge to climb the walls. But there's no reasoning with a glitch. A broken machine cannot repair itself. Thought cannot fix thought. This was my magnificent revelation at 35,000 feet, which I now realize is the point of everything from Zen to stoicism to the power of now. But I need to learn my lessons the hard way.

I felt like a hero as the plane descended over Queens. If you squint through the window, you can see the Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair, which was dedicated to "man's achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe." In 2009, grass was growing in the area representing Antarctica. A year later, the piece for Sri Lanka blew away in a tornado. Maybe there's a metaphor here. (Either way, the Wikipedia page for it is delightful.)