I used to get so excited flying around the world for work or for pleasure – “jet-setting” they call it. I thought it was the “high life”, so to speak, and I thrived on having my passport stamped with as many different countries’ engravings as possible. Yesterday, I felt proud and superior to those who have never travelled. Today, I am bearing the consequences of my desires.
My parents have been good to me and taken me travelling since a young age. But it was after the first taste of being overseas on my own at the age of 16 that I craved for more. There were so many new and mind-boggling adventures waiting for me! And so the goal was to get overseas for university. Unfortunately that dream shattered for multiple reasons, so I accepted my fate. Yet when fate closed the door, it opened windows to an exchange year in Paris, and representing Hong Kong in various overseas competitions. I bounced around on planes enough for me to learn how to pack quickly and find the good deals online. But as I filed in with the rest of the world onto the 747 to the end of the aircraft, praying no one will sit next to me so I can stretch out a little during the 12 hours, I passed by the Business class seats, and do they look comfortable?!
And so from merely wanting to study overseas, the aspiration of travelling “in style” surreptitiously rooted itself in my head. Back in Hong Kong for the last 2 years of university, my ultimate focus was to continue building my CV that would get me a job in some sort of international company who would pay for my Business Class flights around the world and of course, a spacious apartment to live. Never more would I be stuck living in a studio at the back of some sex shop in Paris ever again, I vowed defiantly to myself.
Needless to say, I was lucky and opportunities presented themselves firstly with international law firms, which I decided wasn’t “my thing”, and ended up with my last company straight out of university. I felt I was on the top of the world – the chance to live around the world, management training, and of course the expatriate package that comes with it. I was feeling truly giddy as I stepped into Business Class for the first time as a passenger at the age of 23: “Miss Li, welcome on board, may I take your coat for you? Would you like a glass of champagne?” I kept a straight face to suppress the giggles, and poignantly accepted my little glass of bubblies as if I do it everyday. Not sure my acting was that good. But oh wells, smirk.
As I saved up money and my income jumped incrementally every 12 months, I started toying with the idea of buying Business class tickets as well when I travelled for holiday. And why not? I laboured and worked hard; I deserve a break, right? At least for those 12-hour flights across the world to some pristine beach, surely. Plus, I had all these friends who worked for airlines who could bump me up a grade, and the mileage I had racked up over the years… I basked in my magnificence as I stroll on board before every other pleb in line and got off first with one hand dragging my little carry-on and one hand scrolling down my blackberry, got my luggage first, and had a car waiting to drive me to oooooh, another 5-star hotel.
Stretching out on my flat bed up in the air is but a reflex now, and waiting for my menu with the vast choices of gourmet and fine wine bears no novelty. And so when by chance, I walked into the cabin via First Class once, I wondered to myself: who gets to fly First class? How do I make enough money to fly First so I can roll around on a wider flat bed on board? Like a hawk I eyed my mileage account, and my heart would skip a beat as the card changed to a more glorious colour every year. My fiancé thinks it’s the most ridiculous thing on earth; I considered it the ultimate proof of my status, lounge and all.
Such desires of vanity brought me to exhaustion, as I tried to climb the corporate ladder faster than anyone else. I tried to produce spectacular results and hold my grounds to manage my career – perhaps I could be the youngest, and first female CEO of the company? Ha. Ha. Ha.
Perhaps I could have been, who knows, but at what expense? Clearly, my health and my mental sanity.
It is partly our wants and desires that fuels these irrational goals, and yet the society does not help either, getting us addicted to that tiered and hierarchical lifestyle, encouraging us to spend more, want more, fly more comfortably. My company spoilt me, yes, but I allowed myself to be spoilt.
When will such materialistic desires end? By the time I get to First class, I’d probably want a private jet! And then, a rocket?
Its ironic isn’t it, I used to love being in the air, found a job to pay the Business class tickets and a salary that would let me afford my own. Yet, today when I can easily do so I am taken out of work because of health, and really, all I want to do is to stay home, drink a cup of fresh mint tea and play with my dog.
The thought of getting on a plane, packing, unpacking, repacking, makes me nauseous. Physically I cannot handle this “jet-setting” anymore. Maybe I’m getting old, who knows? But my body is telling me something and I’d better listen.
At the end of the day, flying around all that much, in such dehydrated environments, is so bad for the skin and ages you faster…