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Day 69: At 30,000 Feet

“The modern airplane creates a new geographical dimension. A navigable ocean of air blankets the whole surface of the globe. There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one.” ~Wendell Wilkie

Flying is an act of genius and faith simultaneously. Big planes moving through the sky have been existed for quite some time and huge airports cover vast tracks of land in big cities. Without a second thought we imagine going anywhere in the world and we never stop to consider how amazing is the feat. I am not a novice flyer, traveling around as I do to promote love products; but paying attention and counting all the things there are to be grateful for, it is hard not to include the fact that we have mastered the art of aviation.

Reflect only for a moment about how long the human mind looked upward, only able to reach as high as they could climb or imagine. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Now we can sit comfortably, sipping bubbly water and contemplate the cloud formations or sleep through the journey and find oneself in a totally different climate, culture and reality. This used to be a mere dream.

Still you can’t be up that high above the ground, defying gravity without considering the statistical possibilities that the dream could come crashing down as it has in tragic circumstances. However, the risk is part of the romance, I think. Flying along at 600 miles per hour, on our way somewhere far from our own reality, we get a taste of immortality, all the while conscious that only a few things would have to go wrong to face certain death.

It’s almost too big to consider it all. Which is why cocktails are so popular on airlines. Besides the amenities, my fellow fliers are a wonder as well. The airplane is one of the last cultural melting pots that you pay a ticket to walk into. Think of the interesting people you see on their way here and there. I am always struck while walking through airports at just how many people there are on this earth. How could one little blue planet hold the complexity of realtity and emotions for so many souls? Airplanes are one of my favorite places to meet people.

It is a rare place where people will open up to strangers like they do on airplanes. I am not sure if it is the freedom of pure meeting in that strange no-time, no-place zone that defines air travel or… serendipity. I often find the conversations that happen on planes elucidating. I surprise myself with how I listen and even what I say. I always learn something from both.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of the world’s earliest flyers, once wrote, “I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” If you pay attention at 30,000 feet, it has to lift your mind to something positive.