I just flew in from Chicago. My favorite part of flying is the take off, but I admittedly hate the process of getting into the air, it can be miserable. Baby’s ears are popping and they are screaming and crying, some idiot in front of you inevitably leans their seat back during take-off and then your knees get squashed, and it is usually either freezing or stifling hot for the first half hour. You have to spend the first few minutes avoiding chatty people; you know the ones who are eye-balling you and making awkward eye contact, and then you are trapped wondering if you will have to talk to strange people about their lives for the next hour that you planned to sleep.
Somebody, as usual, has cut it close in the terminal and has brought their Chinese food, Burger King, or other repulsive fast food on the plane and begins to eat their meal in a very confined space and now everything stinks like fried rice and cheap burgers. And without fail there is always some on-top-of-the-world business woman or oblivious manly-man talking on their cell phones basically yelling as if their phone has no microphone like the rest of ours do and they must yell so the other native on the line can decipher their message. Seriously people, cell phones have come a long way, just adjust the volume and talk in your respectful inside voice! We don’t all need to know about your meeting, your schedule, why you are super mad at a client or your husband, or who’s picking you up. SIX inch voices, please.
I am a travel snob, clearly, and I am ok with this. I am on airplanes enough that I can be one, because there are airplane rules and they are ALL broken during take-off by non-business travelers or oblivious business travelers.
Despite the annoying rule breakers who irritate the system, take-off is still my favorite part of the day. For me, it’s a moment. The one moment that everything changes. One second you are on the ground and slowly climbing through the air, hovering over familiar houses and buildings, and then poof, the very next second the world disappears and you feel like you are in heaven. You float to the top of the clouds and some sort of magic happens up there, the world vanishes and suddenly it is just you and the sun.
The sun is always there. The sun is always out. It is constant. Once the buildings and cars turn into little ants, the plane pierces through the clouds, and you find yourself face to face with a brilliant sun no matter what it is like on the ground. Cloudy, gloomy, or rainy in Dallas, Chicago, or Little Rock, drizzling, stormy, or pouring down buckets of hail and water in Santa Monica, New York, or Nashville, it doesn’t matter, because beyond the clouds lays the sun. Always. And if it is a sparkling day on the ground, at 33,000 feet, it is even more sparkly, more dazzling, and more beautiful.
It always amazes me, even if just for a moment, that I can leave the ground of the earth one way, travel through some clouds and come out on the other side, the almost heaven side, and the world is totally different. It is sunny. It is the world of eternal sunshine.
On my most sappy and spiritual days this brief moment feels real to me, feels like my life sometimes. Even when life hurts the most, when it is overshadowed with sadness and gloom and it seems dark even during the daytime… the sun is still shining. Somewhere beyond my own vision the sun still exists, the light is still present, still up there, it has not melted or exploded or left, it is constant. The sun always shines even if there are clouds and storms covering it up, it is still there; sometimes we just don’t see it. I have to be reminded of this. There is nothing more amazing than being reminded of this. To leave my house in Dallas with wind and rain, to leave feeling like all is dark, and to realize within minutes of taking off that the clouds are just temporary, because beyond them, the sun is out. Every time I take off I am mesmerized when I go through the clouds and come out on the other side and remember all over again that just because it is stormy on the ground doesn’t mean the sun has quit, where there is darkness there is also light.
Then I hear the baby crying, the guy snoring behind me, and I catch the eye of the anxious talker sitting next to me waiting for their moment to dive into conversation with me and I remember life is not always perfect, there are clouds. Sometimes lots of clouds.
But even so….the sun is still out somewhere.