Sunday, August 28, 2011


Despite TSA, despite extra charges for everything from luggage to leg room, despite long lines and long waits, despite uncomfortable seats, and despite sinus headaches from altitude changes and stale air – i like flying.  Really i do.  Each time, as the plane rolls down the runway, i get this flutter in the pit of my stomach.  The runway flashes by faster and faster and then that final kick of the engines – i am pressed back against my seat – and we are airborne!  It never fails to feel like a new experience no matter how many flights i have taken. 

"Oh.  I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…”* I am transfixed as the Earth spreads out beneath me.  The plane banks and turns away from the airport.  The city i know so well, the place i call home, becomes a mosaic of pretty-colored tiles in dusty browns, gold, and forest greens, and roads the grout that holds the city together.  From the city we turn again.  Below us the rivers and lakes shrink as we climb to cross the snow-laced mountains.  The Grand Canyon is but a small textured line that meanders across the red desert and is but a tiny wrinkle on this vast face of Earth.  We fly over miles upon miles of fields.  They stretch to the horizon looking more like a giant’s game board than the food that graces our plates.  And the clouds!  Mmmm, home-churned ice cream!  They seem so solid then – whoosh! – we fly right through them.  Others are flat and thick, like a heavy morning fog while some are so soft, their edges blurred in muted colors, are just a painter’s dream.  Surreal. 

Seeing the Earth this way, is like being reborn.  I am a child again.  Amazed, delighted, broadly smiling at each new sight.  And the night – oh – the night.  How lovely the Moon shines on the Earth!  It becomes a game for me to find the reflection of the Moon twinkling from one body of water to another.  Bayous, flooded fields, lakes, rivers, the Ocean – they sparkle like city lights beneath us and i follow that dazzling trail to the edge of the Earth – where Skies and Land meet. 

I wish i had wings – great, big, white angel wings.  I would fly so high – and so low.  To see every detail of the Earth in that bird’s eye view.  Nothing exists out here.  No worries.  No problems.  Just the beautiful Earth.  So precious.  So amazing and new – every time.     

*The lines are the first stanzas from “High Flight,” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Below is a video of Yves Rossy, "Jetman," making a historic flight over Grand Canyon West on May 11, 2011.  Watch it!