There’s something so magical about flying.
To think of this hunk of metal filled with people and weighed down with stuff as it hurtles down the runway, groaning as it heaves itself into the air, but then suddenly soaring…
It fills me with wonder.
I am not one of those people who keeps reading during takeoff. No – a window seat for me, please. I press my nose against the glass and mentally gasp at all the sights.
I don’t ever want to become one of those people who doesn’t press their nose to the glass. I don’t care about the opinions of others either, so I will continue to gaze about and gasp, sometimes audibly.
While I was on jury duty, I was often in the corridor for air traffic on its way to the airport. Planes would fly overhead, not too high off the ground. One day I stopped at a nearby Shoppers Drug Mart on my way home. As I stepped back out of the store, I was suddenly engulfed in a shadow, and then a split second later, back in the sun. As my heart pounded, I tried to figure out what had happened. It was the shadow of a plane that had scared and then delighted me so. What a world we can live in, where we can experience this wonder and delight!
Sometimes when I fly, I think of that moment I experienced on the ground. Flying from Toronto to New York City a few years ago, the plane’s shadow was clearly visible on the ground below. I watched it for quite a while, racing along below us, as it temporarily engulfed houses, cars, boats in shadow. Did anyone down below feel that sudden flash of fear and then wonder?
Right at this moment, flying anywhere feels like a far off dream, too dangerous and with nowhere I’m allowed to go. But I will still remember and smile at my memories of flight.
Walking through crowded New York City streets among hordes of tourists, the sun beating down overhead, the only shade coming from the concrete towers rising above… it’s easy to lose sight of humanity. It would be easy to shove your way through any crowd, elbows out. To huff in annoyance or roll your eyes at drivers who pause in the crosswalk of a light and then get trapped by the very pedestrians they’re inadvertently blocking. To put in headphones and maintain a separation, an emotional distance from the people around you. It would be easy to forget that each person is a person like you, loved by family and friends, with the hum of hopes and dreams deep within.
But reminders are there if you look for them. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see them. You’ll see the four-year-old boy walking with his older brother along the edge of Central Park, so excited about the horses and carriages waiting for riders that he greets each and every last horse with a delighted cry of “Hello, horsey!”
You’ll see the Cartier security guard, bored by hours of standing alone outside, sweating in his suit in the summer heat. You’ll notice how he catches the eye of the security guard inside and entertains him wordlessly while pretending to do down stairs while walking past the window. He’ll be embarrassed when he discovers you watching him, but that embarrassment will quickly change to a shared laugh when you compliment him on his skills.
You’ll find yourself stuck inside the middle of a group of teens crammed too tightly into a subway car and laugh out loud when you over hear the dry comment, “Well, we said we wanted this mission trip to bring us closer together.”
You’ll find yourself smiling at babies in strollers on the subway, crying at stories of immigrants on Ellis Island, sharing a smile with a stranger while pausing to enjoy the early morning sun and the mist rising off a pond in Central Park, commiserating with fellow commuters over subway delays.
You will discover the truth of the Dalai Lama’s words, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”