Just Before Takeoff …

I originally started this post with a roller coaster metaphor, then there was the roller coaster incident over the weekend, so I thought I’d play it relatively safer and use a plane metaphor. Not because there haven’t been plane tragedies lately, but because the feeling I’m about to describe is most acute for me on planes.

Imagine you and I are on a plane. Doesn’t matter where we’re going. Doesn’t matter how long the flight is. No, I don’t care if you make me take the middle seat, I’ll be happy to have two arm rests. Now let’s assume we have plenty of leg room, because you and I are travelers of distinction, and because this is our imaginary plane, so we can just eliminate the row of seats where the unshowered guy and the screaming babies sit. Cool? Great.

The captain, who can sound either like Picard or a smooth jazz radio station DJ (your choice), makes his announcements and we all watch the safety video. And then we’re told that we’re like number 30 in line for takeoff, because while you and I are travelers of distinction, our imaginary plane isn’t. Which is sort of bullshit, and I totally blame you for not making us fly in a private jet staffed with curvy redheads who serve us milkshakes and potato skins. But anyway, we’re waiting on the runway, and The Moment strikes.

This Moment is best described as an acute feeling of having the middle of your stomach pulled through your groin by a sharp hook, then looped back around between your kidneys then squished back into position upside down after a vigorous shaking. Compound that with a baby dual-wielding blowtorches at the back of your mouth and just above your stomach and you get a sense of what I feel in the moments before the plane reaches its cruising altitude. I’ve had this feeling for maybe two decades, and it seems to crop up only when I’m flying. Other people tell me they have it when speaking in public or when they have to talk to their boss or they had it randomly in conversations when things got dicey. Whenever you have it, it sucks.

I bring this up because two days from right now, right this second from when I’m writing this, I’m going to be sitting in an airport, waiting to get on a plane. Sure, unlike all the other times I’m not going alone, but I’m still going to get on the plane.

See, The Moment is just a Moment. The same way that you reading this sentence is a moment, the same way that you trying to figure out if it’s too early to start thinking about lunch is a moment, the same way that pouring your coffee in the morning is a moment. They pass, is what I’m saying. And not all of them are scary. Unless you’re afraid of coffee pouring or lunch or something. Then yes, those moments are scary too. But you know what I mean.

Identify your Moment. Say it out loud, give it a name and a set of conditions. Do you want to melt into the space between floorboards when you have to talk to someone you believe to be “a big deal”? Do you try and do everything in your power to avoid giving the presentation at work? Do you stare at pages morning after morning, bleary eyed and tired, unsure of why you’re writing or convinced it’s not any good?

It’s just a Moment. It passes.

Do I believe that? Not always. Which is why I carry this in my wallet.


They totally pass

They totally pass

You can get yours right here, for easy printing and reminding.

When you find those scary Moments, remember they’re just as temporary as you let them be.


Gen Con fast approaches, and my schedule is action-packed. If you’re attending, I hope you have a great time, and if we’re lucky enough to see each other, may our interaction be delightful for everyone involved.

Happy writing, whether you’re attending or not, but seriously, you’re going to miss some awesome panels.

Posted by johnadamus

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