I hope I never tire of the awe I experience as a window seat passenger on an airplane.
Pulling away from the gate, I watch the employees on the tarmac and wonder what they’re telling the pilots. They scan the plane and I look away, embarrassed wondering if they can see me watching through the window - but I can’t help my curiosity and I look again, eager to be part of the conversation. I glance at the city around me, saying goodbye to memories made and eagerly awaiting my next destination. The rumbling of the engine coupled with the speed of the wheels skimming the ground reminds me that we are about to achieve the impossible. It’s the Wright brothers’ wildest dreams come true as we lift off the ground and into the air. Once constrained by gravity, we are now free to soar alongside the birds.
Slowly, I watch as buildings that once seemed to tower over me now appear small enough that I can pick them up with my fingers. The cars remind me of an old video game, changing lanes and heeding to what must be a traffic light to allow other vehicles to pass through. Suddenly, everyone stops when the red and blue flashing lights approach. It’s a beautiful dance of controlled chaos. The city that once seemed so large is now only a diagram, modeling the layout of how a city should be designed and built. Tiny houses are arranged neatly along winding roads, and neighborhoods are separated by large patches of grass. I can see pools, tennis courts, and baseball fields, and I squint to see if anyone is playing. I fly over them, and they are oblivious to me.
As we continue our flight, I am in awe of the clouds we pass: we pass through one sky, in one trip, and across countless cloud formations. I remember some of the words I learned in elementary school to describe them - cumulous, cumulonimbus, maybe stratas-something - but I can’t categorize them. They are too simple and too complex. They are never-ending mounds of snow across deserted plains, devoid of footprints. They are wisps of a dream that I can’t remember, but one that I feel deep within my heart. They are heaps of fluffy cotton candy, so round and perfect that I almost change my mind, deciding that they are instead perfectly formed pillows and I would like to sleep in them.
The truth is, I can’t describe them. I can’t find words to illustrate what I’m seeing. If I’m traveling with my husband, I tap on his shoulder to show him. If I’m traveling alone, I take a photo to show him later. He might not really care to see as much as I do, but it’s too magnificent and magical to keep to myself. It would be wrong to keep it a secret.
And yet, I almost feel like it’s just for me. Like God has painted a celestial canvas for this window-seat-loving girl and her fascination for the ever-changing skies. I’ve witnessed stunning sunsets, where the entire evening has been dunked in golden hues or dusted with pinks and purples. I’ve watched a deep blue summer afternoon surrender to dark storm clouds, with strikes of lighting illuminating entire groups of clouds, like stadium lights flickering on and off, then on again with more power than ever before. I’ve seen rays of light breaking through an impossible gray, reminding me of the strength that hope brings and filling my heart with an unknowable peace.
I am weary of the way things tend to go as time goes on. Little things that once enchanted us become routine, and suddenly, the little joys of life are lost. As more of these moments of innocent bliss are forgotten, we find that the fire within us begins to fizzle out, and it’s difficult to remember what started that spark in the first place. We all need to save that spark. We must remember to find joy in the little things and to never lose the appreciation and wonder we have for the world around us.
For me, I hope I always choose to be in awe of the view from the window seat. To wonder about the world illuminated below. To be part of the painted sky. And to try to find words for the clouds.