I have a secret fantasy; well it’s not actually that secret, given that I’ll tell anyone who stands still long enough. I once even felt compelled to divulge it to 40 children in my charge, who laughed so heartily and for so long, I seriously thought I was going to have to resuscitate a couple. Strictly speaking it’s two fantasies but they are born out of the same intention and have the same outcome; they are different merely in their particulars.
Both involve being airborne and one has me spotting a potential shoe-bomber mid-flight and wrestling him to the ground in order to save the entire plane. The other is less dramatic in that the plane simply gets into difficulties and, after pushing the beleaguered pilot to one side, I have to land the plane safely. I feel duty bound to point out here that I can’t even drive a car but that’s the beauty of fantasies; reality matters not a jot. Anyway both of these scenarios culminate with me appearing on the news and explaining modestly how it was human instinct and anybody would have done the same. I’m thinking also a possible medal from the Queen and maybe the key to the city.
It would seem then that my better self is a whole lot braver than my real one. The reality is that I am so fearful of flying; I spend long haul flights self-medicated on gin. There was one occasion when I used valium instead but it was a disaster. My panic wasn’t diminished one little bit; in fact I think it was intensified. It was like being trapped in the locked in syndrome that some stroke victims have; I was slumped in my seat for the entire journey, unable to communicate my distress. Thank God I was travelling with my sister, who completely ignored me and watched the in-flight film, or I could have been ambulanced off to a stroke unit.
Anyway the point is, were there to be a shoe-bomber aboard or the plane suddenly began to plummet, I would be in no fit state to do anything. In fact, should there be any kind of emergency, I would probably be too incapacitated to find the exit and have to go down with the plane. My secret fantasies then are obviously the subconscious manifestation of my desire to be more heroic rather than pinned in my seat like an emotional wreck.
Bravery is a very admirable quality and I am not just talking about the physical heroics of saving a plane load of people either. I admire the quiet bravery that you see every day from people who put other people’s needs before their own. People who volunteer to help others when the easier thing would be to look the other way. I don’t care in what capacity people choose to volunteer, be it one day a week in a charity shop or dodging bullets in a war zone to save orphans, I applaud them all.
There’s also the bravery of people who keep going in the face of adversity. For example, people who suffer from health problems but don’t give up the fight even though it may seem insurmountable. Worse still must be the plight of parents whose children are
ill. The strength and bravery of these people is often super human. I admire them all and wish I had just a fraction of their resolve.
There we have it then, the attribute that I would like above all other: Bravery. Bravery in all its shapes and forms. They do say that we never know how brave we are until we are put in a situation that requires it to come to the fore. All I can say is that
I am not holding my breath and I just hope to God I never have a plane load of people counting on me.