A few weeks ago, I took my first plane ride. Most people seem to have taken their first trip through the clouds when they were children, and regarded me with disbelief when I, a twenty-four-year-old, told them I had never done it. I flew from Atlanta to Raleigh, North Carolina and back, a trip that took a little over an hour each way. I think I spent more time in the airports than I did on either plane.
I’ve been told that what we take away from our experiences in life is decided by our perspective. There are optimists, pessimists, nihilists, realists, and numerous others “ists” who all comprehend the world in different ways. Of the options, the perspective from cruising altitude is my new favorite. Call me a tourist, I suppose.
I’ve seen lots of pictures that were taken from the air. In fact, I see them every time I open Google Maps to find my route to work in the morning. They don’t compare to being in the sky, though. All the pictures are secondhand. You get the image without the feeling of being far above the ground. Google Maps never makes me feel like I’m going to start crying in the driver’s seat.
Maybe it was watching my city shrink into nothing within the first ten minutes or the way the sun turned water into molten gold at that height. Maybe it was watching cars that had been reduced to ants crawling on tiny tracks or actually seeing the point where sight fails and the world becomes an endless blue haze and finally understanding what the weather station means when it says “Visibility: 15 miles.” Whatever it was, the pictures I took don’t capture it any better than the higher quality ones you can find online do. I may not have been a child during my first plane ride, but I think I could’ve been mistaken for one if you’d looked just at my eyes during that flight.
I could talk about how all our problems seem small from the air or how distance can show you how little our seemingly large worlds are, but most people already know about those things even if they don’t think about them often. Instead I would like to remind you not to forget that this world is filled with wonder, and that it isn’t hard to find. You don’t have to take a trip to a faraway country to be amazed; you probably don’t even have to go as far as the state border. Wonder can be found anywhere you’re willing to search for it if you look from the right perspective, so grab a window seat if you can.