Perception vs. Reality

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My family and I just got back our first plane trip!  We went to Los Angeles to visit my grandparents and to give our son a chance to know his great grandparents.  Well, as any of ya’ll who have kids know, taking plane trips with a 2 year old is….an interesting experience.  Trial by fire, if you will.  My husband was in charge of our son and I dealt with the more mundane aspects of airport travel:   getting all of our stuff (stroller, diaper bag, car seat etc) through security, finding the gate and making sure that everyone was seated and strapped in on the plane.

Being trapped on a narrow metal tube as it flies through the air at very high speeds always makes me appreciate how much space I have on land.  The perception of exactly how far one goes when flying is deceptive, because the distance traveled and the amount of time taken for travel don’t match the speed at which we feel the plane move.  My son discovered this for the first time on his first flights.  He was very excited at take off–all of the plane motion and changing scenery certainly piqued his interest.  But that interest was soon lost once the plane reached cruising altitude and the clouds started to look the same.  I watched my son’s attention switch from the window to his trucks.  I myself am always amazed at how little I can appreciate the distance I traveled when I am on an airplane.  Despite actually going 1400 miles away from home, I feel like a drive to Austin farther than the actual plane trip.

Our perception of distance is affected by so many things, not least of all by the changing scenery.  Seeing the world move around us helps give our brains a sense of distance covered.   But when perception doesn’t match reality, it creates confusion and we (by that I mean our brains) have to decide what we are going to believe:  what we see or what we feel.

What do you feel like when you get onto an airplane?  Send us your comments!  Thankfully, my son fell asleep on the flight back.  He was not too excited about being strapped into the flying metal tube again…


-Dr. Davis


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