Fear of flying

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - APRIL 23: Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at the Ethiopian section of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre April 23, 2011 in Jerusalem's old city, Israel. Tens of thousands of worshippers took part in the annual ritual that has been practiced for at least the last 1,200 years on the day before Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Easter Friday is perhaps the least auspicious day to be in the centre of Christendom.


I’ve always been fascinated by strange and unexpected deaths.

In 2013, a Brazilian man died due to injuries sustained when a cow fell through the roof of his bedroom. Joao Maria de Souza and his wife, Leni, were asleep in bed when the 1400kg cow crashed through the roof. The beast is believed to have escaped from a nearby farm and walked down an embankment on to their house.

In 2012, William Bohlke, Texas mayor, was killed by his angry pet donkey in heat.

Recently, a Sydney truck driver was killed by a rock thrown from a bridge over a motorway while he was driving home from work. He is one of many to meet such an end. A number of people have been critically injured when a speeding car has ploughed into their homes.

The randomness of these deaths is what I think about when I make plans that frighten me. We can all go at any time, in the safest of environments. We can avoid trouble spots in the world, but ultimately it’s down to a twist of fate.

I’m in the middle of planning a trip overseas and it’s taken me four times longer than normal because I’m trying to predict terrorism and dodge it. I’m doing a complicated work trip that requires a lot of transit stops. On one leg I was going to fly Turkish airline Pegasus, with a four-hour stopover in Istanbul, but just before I booked there was a bomb attack at the airport. So I looked at a Ukrainian airline, but realised that wasn’t a good idea either. In the end, I settled for Air France via Paris, which is another scary proposition nowadays.

By a strange coincidence, due to flight schedules I will be in Jerusalem on Easter Friday, which will be exciting, but perhaps the least auspicious day to be in the centre of Christendom. I’ve been nervously trying to re-juggle flights. But look at the facts: the truth is I could stay and get killed by a cow or a falling rock; or a wall in the street, like the Grocon wall collapse in Melbourne; be in the Lindt cafe in Sydney; turn right on the road or left, and die.

I studied Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, suggesting we can’t change our destiny. I’ve always argued the opposite. If we are cautious and sensible we can at least minimise the chance of demise. But in these times, when danger lurks anywhere, what is sensible or cautious any more? Safety is nowhere. So I might as well fly off — and at least dodge the risk of a falling cow.

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