Nothing to do with fitness this week. Enjoy a few thoughts from my personal journal. Please check back in two weeks. Perhaps then I will have something to say about fitness.
I am fascinated by flying. It seems I fly somewhere every few months. Usually I fly to coastal parts north, to play. I fly to Chicago to visit my daughter 3-4 times per year. I fly to Colorado or to the mid-west to visit with friends. I love to fly. In fact, I always take great care to secure a window seat when I fly – be it in the daytime or even at night. An aisle or middle seat, for me, even on the shortest of journeys, is an emotional kick in the stomach. A window seat is a gift that never goes unappreciated by my soul.
Recently I flew from southern California to Athens, Greece and stared out the window for a great majority of the 16 hour flight. I rarely sleep when I fly, even during 16 hours of flying. I am just compelled to keep my eyes fixed to the window with wide wonder. Even if I see only clouds or darkness, I stare like a child to whatever might be beyond them. When it’s clear, I’m always in awe of the planet below and the heavens above. As a being, I feel exceptional to be in such proximity of the upper and the lower Earth.
It’s not feeling exceptional that most heightens me when I fly. When I fly I am stirred by the honesty within. It’s an honesty that I never feel when I’m on the ground. Whether it’s well founded or not, my media fed perception of the risks involved with flying are always at the surface when I fly. As the wheels of an aircraft lock into place beneath me after takeoff, I am nervous. Thoughts race through my mind of crashing, of dying, of flames, fears, screams, of my family, my finances, and even of my own funeral. I always wonder as the plane leaves or approaches the runway, if I don’t make it, will anyone show up to morn my absence…?
Eventually, with enough time and air behind me, confidence builds and these morbid thoughts taper and give way to a kind of honesty I don’t experience on the ground. I feel so pure looking to the earth and to the sky from a single vantage point – as if my long lost innocence has been given back to me to wear for just a few hours. It’s during these times when I am best able to put my life in perspective. To see the earth from this view and be so close to the sky – simultaneously, is to also see my future in equal portion with my past. The chaos of life, from 37,000 feet, doesn’t seem so chaotic. It all makes sense to me there.
At altitude, my thoughts are fresh, more pure, and seem valid even to myself. Nothing I consider, ponder, or write when I fly seems forced or contrived. There’s no false inspiration there. I simply am who I am, on my way to that place. I once read a theory that the moments after an orgasm are the most honest moments of a person’s life. Though they may be the sleepiest moments of my life, they are not the most honest. The most honest moments I have ever experienced are when I’m halfway between up and down, and headed to over there.
I once even began flying lessons, with the scarce intention that I might someday fly as a career. However, impending fatherhood and flying lessons were at different ends of the financial spectrum so my flying lessons were short lived. I remember though, the very first time I took off in a Cessna 152. As pulled back on the yoke and gently allowed the plane to leave the runway, I felt two separate and distinct things – simultaneously. One thought was,
Oh my god, I’m flying, I can’t believe I’m flying an airplane.
The other was,
Holy shit, I’m going to die.
In my head, a more polarized crux of emotions had never existed. I felt pure joy, and pure fear, all at once. Maybe that’s where my airborne honesty comes from. Caught between sky and land, between fear and joy, what choice do I have but to be honest…? Maybe that’s why I love to fly.
In the interest of full disclosure, this essay was written at night, from seat 6A, on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to San Diego. I had to stop writing multiple times, just to stare at the lights below and the stars above. Be well. rc
Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” on the blender in my head.