Yesterday, a beautiful clear day in DC with trees bursting open their pink and purple and white flowers, with fountains turned on and sun glinting off the Potomac, I saw the vapor trail of a jet high in the deep blue sky. And I thought, for the thousandth time, what a miracle it is that more than a hundred people sit themselves down in a big metal tube hurled through the sky, above the earth, above the clouds – it’s a miracle.
It’s a miracle I am part of. I stopped buying shoes and started putting groceries on my mileage plus card to earn frequent flyer points. From any seat on the plane, I whisper a prayer of thanks and then sit up straight and happily listen to the safety briefing for the millionth time. I have flown to nearly every state in the US, and also to Japan and Thailand and Australia and Fiji and Paris and Milan. The friends I make on airplanes last longer than I would’ve thought and the breadth of knowledge I’ve gleaned from talking to my seat partners astonishes me.
Flying is powerful. The sky is one of the only remaining place humans go where there are no phones and no internet, where you can sink yourself into a good book for two hours straight or have a nice chat with a stranger with no guilt or fear of reprisal. It’s a separate space.
Flying is peaceful. It’s a place where you can, with no social reprisal, slip on an eye mask and pop in some earplugs and sleep for no reason. There’s a crossword puzzle in the free magazine, and articles about exotic food and far-flung places. You can talk or not, as you choose. Even when you travel with others, they seem to understand.
I don’t understand why people complain about flying. I’ve been in the middle seat in coach – a lot – but even from there it’s a big adventure. It’s so close to “Beam Me Up, Scotty”…Our human ancestors once took years to travel from point A to point B on foot, ships took months to cross oceans, covered wagons to cross the Great Plains. Mr. Ford gave us travel counted in days, and then came Orville and Wilbur and now I can cross the continent in under 5 hours. If I wanted to (and I really actually do) I could fly to London and back in time for dinner) I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to see what is next – and you can bet if it’s invented before I die, I will be on it.
Flying feels like a miracle – I don’t quite understand how it works (yes, yes, lift-thrust-drag-etc), I don’t quite believe I’m willing to do it, I am so blessed by flying I could cry. The action of an airplane itself is a miracle, and then as an undeserved bonus, oh, the places I get to see and explore when the darn thing lands.
Flying is my spirit unencumbered, it is launching into the unknown wonderland, it is a rising up and a rising above. If that’s not a miracle, then what is?