Reclining the seat…

Why, when I’m on an aeroplane do I feel uncomfortable reclining my seat? 

Recently returning from Germany with a well-known airline and after listening to the on-board safety announcements, I paused before reclining my seat.

This pause was not because I wasn’t going to recline my seat, I’m a big guy and need the space, firstly to stretch out, and secondly so that I can release the tray that is attached to the seat in front of me. There is nothing worse than trying to juggle hot coffee, snack, paper, book and napkin without the tray. It’s an accident waiting to happen, especially when the seat belts sign stays on and there is a warning of turbulence. Besides if I don’t recline my seat the tray will not fit, I’m a big guy!

My reason for checking, was to see if I would upset the person behind me.

Now there is no reason for me to check. This is part of travelling by plane, trays are provided to put things on, it goes with the territory, and seats recline to provide that bit of extra comfort. So why should I pause before reclining? Maybe I was trying to avoid some unknown confrontation; or making someone else uncomfortable. Maybe my nature is just cautious anyway and I don’t feel I have the liberty to just go for it. Some psychological caution kicked in and I had to check by looking behind me to see if it was okay. 

I needed to give myself permission. 

The airline had done their part, reclining seats, trays for goodies, so why the caution? Yes, I have been brought up to open doors for people, be nice to older folks, feed the cat, dog sit and so on, smile at children, and say ‘thank you’, even if it’s not warranted. The more I consider this the more I realise that I am a fairly complex human being. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have odd traits, I can be a little eccentric, but I’m also fairly straight forward and manage to live in the world at a reasonable level. Often it is me that causes me to stop and think. My formal training has given me some insight to the human condition, but I still find that I need to stop and think about some of the things I do and say, I’m not fully in control!

In overcoming who I am I have to recognise that there are many areas of life when permission is not needed. I can just do things, get on with life. But there are, in the day to day, subconscious acts that need my permission before I act. These are mostly in and around people with the odd worry of ‘what would they think of me?’

I know for some people decision making can be crippling. There is no suggestion that they care less, lack consideration or love in their lives. But sometimes making a decision can be a crippling experience. I don’t really have an answer for this.

I am part of the church. It’s a church that welcomes all sorts of people; this is wholly the intent of the head of the church of human beings. So maybe one of you reading this can provide some support; an answer that will bring understanding and release people in the human church from crippling indecision. 

One day they may have to fly.

Image Credit: Toa Heftiba