I flew in to a rainstorm over Sao Paulo. I was returning home after 5 weeks of travelling. I was retuning home, it was starting to feel like home. The plane was dark, we´d been delayed in Uruguay, the plane was small and it lurched in the sky. We were inside a cloud and I couldn´t see the lights of my new home, the seascape of skyscrapers I had looked at everyday for 5 months, but I was coming home and I was happy.
I flew in to 2012 too, New Years Eve tucked under a blanket over the Atlantic. I´m learning to fly but I´m not a traveller, I never have been. These moments of movement in my life are an aberration from my usual slothful existence. In the last 9 months I’ve flown 7 times, I will take 4 more flights before my first year in Brazil is over. In the 10 years before coming here, I flew once.
I flew back to the UK for Christmas, across the Atlantic Ocean. From sunny Brazil to crispy, cold Brighton. There was some turbulence. The plane was bouncing around in the sky just as I bounced my way back to my old life, excited and apprehensive. I was nervous on that journey, the seatbelt sign beeps and I tighten the mechanism around my waist and I remember the simple explanation a friend had given me for the turbulence, ´It’s nothing to worry about, it´s just warm air meeting cold´.
I repeated this mantra to myself on that and on other journeys, as I explored some of South America, in a Bolivian aircraft, juddering across the continent, ´Just warm air meeting cold´. The meeting of two opposites, two opposing forces sometimes causes turbulence. This isn´t necessarily a harbinger of doom, a warning for the faint hearted of impending death and destruction, the beginning of the end, the prediction of a crash, it´s just warm air meeting cold.
And as I reviewed the turbulence of the previous few months, the cold air of my English existence meeting the intoxicating heat of Brazil, that turbulence was also an indicator of a journey to a new horizon, a new place, a fresh chance. Turbulence, doesn’t need to be feared, in bringing chaos and uncertainty to our lives it gives stability to the solidity.
In the classroom I am learning to embrace turbulence too, to allow the warm and cold to clash, to let go of some control, to let the pupils experience their own version of hot air meeting cold. This week we have been working in groups on a film project and it has been a turbulent experience. We´ve had tears, tantrums, arguments, lost work, broken cameras, IT problems and a lot of frustration.
The bossy show off in me wants to wade in, take control, organise them, sort them out, solve the problems, make it work. They seek this from me too, comfortable in letting the adult deal with the disruptions, disagreements and disinterest. They seek from me solutions and sympathy. I had to step back, let the turbulence play out; let them bounce around the project towards a new destination.
I am 39 next month and as I creep closer to my 40s I seek a different kind of turbulence to the distractions of my 20s. I am learning to enjoy the journeys these disruptions take me on; to take pleasure in the changes. The turbulent path can be painful, dark and frightening. I keep remembering that it is just warm air meeting cold and that it is just a part of the flight to my next destination.