I’m in Singapore between one long flight and another on my way to New Zealand. In my slightly befuddled state I’ve been thinking about why I like long flights – despite the jet lag the relatively cramped conditions etc etc. It’s not as if I do much, I usually don’t feel like reading and don’t watch more than one or two movies. I don’t exactly sleep.

Yet I get a buzz from it all.

Partly, I think it’s about the adage that creativity loves constraints. There is something paradoxically liberating about the confinement and regulation implicit in air travel. Your seat is allocated, you can’t move about much, you eat more-or-less what you’re given when you’re given it. The flip side is you don’t feel responsible for much. Your timing and everything else is largely outside your control. There’s a certain liberty that comes with that – and a licence to daydream. Improv teaches that structure are not opposites, they actually feed each other.

And partly, like a lot of folks, I enjoy being taken out of my familiar enviroment. I almost always find travel abroad liberating. I think it subverts a lot of implicit rules I make for myself as an Englishman living in England. I don’t even notice how my culutural norms influence me when I’m home. I can’t for sure put my finger on them. But whenever I’m abroad I notice my thinking gets more expansive. I want to do more of this!

2 thoughts on “Constraints

  1. Jack Yan

    This must be the same for me. I can’t sleep on flights (regardless of class), and when I arrive in the new place I am driven by buzz and adrenalin. I play the in-flight games (anyone who has beaten me on the quiz game on Air Tahiti between JFK and Papeete, let me know), watch the movies, and stay alert like crazy.

  2. dwlt

    This is exactly the same for me. I get lost in my own little world, and end up coming up with lots of ideas and inspiring myself. Glad to hear I’m not the only one!


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