The 6 Cycles of Reincarnation Everyone Lives on a Long Plane Ride

We are born. And then we die waiting in line for the bathroom.

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Life is short when you've been thinking about your legacy since adolescence ::nervous laughter::, but on a cross-country-or-whatever flight, time passes in such slo-mo that even Kristen Chenoweth's voice would sound like James Earl Jones'. Here, the six different existences one tries on in the weird limbo that is modern air travel. If only it were the same on the ground.

The Weary

Your bodychain set off the detector but you couldn't remove it because Rihanna wears hers under her bra too but that doesn't mean you could disrobe in front of the entire TSA Pre-Check line like she would. Your shoes were really hard to put back on after you were patted down. They didn't have any gluten-free options so you had to get a fruit cup. UGH. The good news, though: suffering = level up!

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The Philosopher

In your next life, you are rewarded for enduring your past trials by transcending bodily concerns to contemplate Bigger Things. Nothing brings on a metaphysical mood like clouds as far as the eye can see, no service, and not being able to listen to anything except Schubert because you need to conserve battery. Why are we here? Isn't time just an illusion? I know I'm going to L.A., but where am I *really* going? Isn't life itself also about drag and lift and struggling to stay aloft when literally all other forces are trying to bring you down? Oh, look—hot towels.

The College Kid

Demoted, obviously, but they put loads of new-ish movies in front of you, so it can't really be that harsh of a punishment. "Wrong," you realize too late when you arrive at your destination walleyed, after blinking maybe twice through four films and having been repeatedly (imaginarily, thank goodness) shanked in the throat by your seat-mate. At least now you know that Michael Caine is incandescent in Youth. Detour to Previous Life as Philosopher.

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The A.J. Liebling

Ah, what's this? Dessicated, salted cereal grain braided in the shape of a devout child praying, served with a fine vintage (a '16 Cauca Ceaux-là). Divine.

That One Baby

There is always That One Baby. Everybody pities TOB, but at the same time, everybody would like to be seated as far away as possible from TOB, even if it means being next to the toilet or a snorer or on the wing, please. But plot twist: The baby is you. (Even if only in metaphor, because on a plane, we are at the mercy of the skies and the flight attendants, who feed and clean us at predetermined times. You probably fuss like a baby too, honestly.) It's not really your fault, but move down on the cosmic totem pole for being a real pain the ass and landing your parents on a whole Boeing 777's worth of passengers' sh*t lists.

The Revenant

It's the descent, and baby, you're alive. Barely. Like that one time you passed out in a cab (from exhaustion? IDK), you wake with the same alarming half-gasp, half-primordial-snort that made the driver immediately fling a bottle of water at you. (There is no water this time because tripping over your seat-mate's legs seven times was probably enough. And the prospect of death by shiv-carved-from-a-spork thing really expands the bladder.) But whatever—once you land and taxi and taxi some more and unbuckle your seatbelt (*before* they turn the sign off, teehee) and retrieve your carry-on and loiter halfway in the aisle with your neck bent at a dangerous angle under the overhead light and say thank you to the flight attendant who gave you an extra peanut, you will be a new woman. WOOOOOOOO!

Return as middle armrest.

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Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.