This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of accompanying my aunt to the White House state dinner, where President Obama honored the Prime Minister of Singapore, and his wife, for the 50 years of work their country has done with the United States. Beyond my excitement of tapping champagne glasses with some of the most important personnel that run the county, which I can assure you I will write about in a future blog, I had the opportunity to travel this astonishingly beautiful world once again.
I cannot recall the last time I had a flight were I did not have a window seat. It’s one of my preferences on my Orbitz account because I love to see the world, I love seeing the journey that leads to my destination. Unfortunately, all four planes I traveled on stuck me with a middle or an aisle seat. And all four planes I took carried people who sat in the widow seat with the shade down.
Now I understand many people travel on a weekly basis for career purposes or are just too tired to care about anything other than a two-hour ride where they don’t have to worry about getting to a destination safely and would rather take a nap. But how can you sit in a wonder seat with the shade down?
Do you not want to see the world underneath your temporary metal wings, or the tiny cars that look like Hot Wheels driving endlessly on the city rug? Do you not what to count how many houses have built-in pools in the neighborhoods below before they are too far gone to see? Or find what you once saw as the tallest buildings Downtown now looking rather small? You don’t want to see how the country is actually shaped by perfectly sectioned green squares, or the many rivers and streams that run amongst us unnoticed? There are so many things to see in the window seat but some people keep the shade down.
I was watching The Color Purple a few weeks ago and the character Shug said, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” And I couldn’t agree more. You look at the sky and become miserable by the suns heat, while I look at the sky and become warm, gaining energy from the very source that powers our world. You seek shade, while I seek ways to peek right at it before it notices and makes me blind. You see an unkept lawn, while I see mini rainforests filled with life. You see a mosquito, while I see a life that begins and ends, developing fully in less than 10 days. Could you imagine living your whole life in one week, from birth to death? If you had only 10 days to live, would you look out the window then?
Maybe that’s it! Maybe people feel like they will have another chance to see what’s out the window, to see the colors that paint the world, and the monuments that mark the city. Maybe they think on their returning flight they will have a chance to see the streams filled with fish that think they are in an ocean, and the cars below driven by some people that have never crossed the state lines they were born in. Maybe our average life span of 75+ years has made people so oblivious to the beauty in the world that they think nothing of sitting in the window seat with the shade down.
I will never get tired of seeing what’s below me when I’m in the sky because when I am on the ground I can only see what immediately surrounds me. If you have never flown into Phoenix, AZ, I would highly recommend it. I’ll never forget seeing that volcano-like mountain right in the heart of the city, with houses sticking out from its sides, surrounded by neighborhoods inside of neighborhoods right next to other neighborhoods, with pools and schools and stores and busy people. If you have never flown into NYC at night I would highly recommend it. I’ll never forget crossing over the dark ocean and then my vision being struck by light and life from the city that never sleeps. But I would have never been able to share these memories if my window shade was down. I wouldn’t have been able to see. I wouldn’t know how heavenly it looks flying over a bed of clouds making me wish Cloud 9 was a real place. I would have never wondered why the lightening in the storm cloud below us didn’t bother striking upward as we were closer to it than the trees beneath. I would have never realized how many millions of people aren’t at work at 1:30 in the afternoon, and instead on the road busy with places to go. I would have never known if my window shade was down.
I was on a plane, on my way back to Houston as I wrote this, next to a man who had his shade down. And maybe he had been reading over my shoulder what I was typing, I’m not too sure, but as soon as we began to descend he pulled his shade up and gazed out the window, then turned to me and asked if the sunlight was too bright. I could have cried, then kissed him, but I just simply said “no.” Then we both gazed out at the world beneath us until we safely landed, me in the middle, and him in the window seat, finally with the shade up.