I am blogging from an airplane. About 30,000 to 40,000 feet in the air. The tiny window beside my seat shows blue sky and white clouds, and below, nothing more than wisps of fog and bits of green land. I was lucky enough to be on an airplane many times from childhood to now: Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland, California, East Coast and around Canada, and I’ve always loved flying. As a child, I remember hot meals being delivered in sweet little packages, watching a movie on the big screen and wondering for weeks before what it would be, sleeping stretched across 3 seats with a blanket and the dim-lit cabin world falling with me into sleepy dreams.
I still love the exhilaration of taking off, feeling the weight in your stomach of the swoosh into the air off the runway, hearing the ding of the seatbelt light, and adjusting my eyes to the darkness of cabin lights turning off while passengers settle in for a movie and sleep. But today, in this airplane, I’m astounded, and filled with wonderment. I’m thousands of feet in the air, floating along at about 500 miles per hour in a machine that weights about 180,000 pounds, higher than the eagles and hawks and clouds, and not only are we not falling, but I am using technology and listening to music and blogging.
There is a paragraph that I read years ago, and I have never forgotten the lines from this book by David Crowder, called “Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi.” He writes about how amazing it is to fly. To be floating in the sky above clouds, with the sunset right outside your window, to be carried by a metal machine through the clouds by two metal wings. To be held up and flying at such speeds. He writes about how even so, people on airplanes easily complain–about the lack of leg space, uncomfortable seats, poor food. And yet… he suggests we forget that we are experiencing something miraculous. Not only is there an unforgettable red sunset, but it’s right outside our window, so close we can almost touch it.
Have we forgotten that it’s an absolutely fantastic experience that we can look out our window and down 35,000 feet to the ground, and know that we are held here, in the air like birds flying, cruising along latitudes and longitudes, and that we can cross lands and oceans, and fly through high winds and snow and rain and lightning, and most of all … beautiful red sunsets.
I am blogging from an airplane. I am writing from up here in the sky where right now I am looking out at nothing but blue for miles. No people, no birds, no man-made objects. Just me and the plane and a forever stretch of sky. It could be considered the loneliest place to be, if it weren’t for all the people on this flight with me, and the promise to see my family at the other end. So instead, it is unmeasurably beautiful. It is not lost on me that I am sitting in a row of seats, my laptop on the tray, with my snacks and water and hands typing away, while the airplane stays steady in the air and the flight attendants talk on their headsets, and we can order hot food, and I can write while I fly.
While I fly!
Does it matter that my legs are squished? That my ears feel pressure? That the juice came without ice, that the landing will be 25 minutes late, that my window is slightly opaque from years of use and ice and rain? Does it matter that I didn’t get enough rest because I can’t sleep because the motor is loud, because the engine is working hard, because… I am flying!
This has become such a commonplace experience. It’s easy to forget to be present, to watch and listen and experience the absolute rush of this moment, to be utterly amazed by the fact that this airplane is holding us up in this sky for hours at a time with nothing beneath us but miles and miles of air. And when the sun sets, I can tell you about it in detail, because it’s right out there, across the clouds from my window, reaching it’s orange light towards me like an invitation to be astonished. I can almost feel the red warmth on my face.
It’s not the words I am typing, and it’s not my thoughts or ideas. The amazing thing is where I am typing them from. I am 35,000 feet above the air, starting my vacation, flying from Toronto to Victoria, with dots of colourful houses and moments of lakes and pools below as small as confetti decorating the earth, and I am sipping my tea, sitting in my chair, and I am writing this story.
I take so much for granted, and I forget to be grateful. But today, I am remembering to be ever so grateful.