Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thoughts from 32,000 feet

Note: I wrote this on the flight from Cincinnati to Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday. Advance apologies for waxing poetic, but traveling does that to me.

Note number two update: I'm using Buzznet for my photo hosting for now.

As I flung belongings into suitcases last night, what I gave little thought to was what to read. Intuitively, I grabbed only two books, save my Bible. And they were both by G.K. Chesterton.

The choice was ideal. As we waited on the tarmac for takeoff from Cincinnati, I once again read Chesterton's inspired essay, "Tremendous Trifles."

I recommend the entire essay to you. It's short, funny, thoughtful and right after the preface in the online text.

Chesterton says true adventure is not found by striding across the world like a giant. Instead, he says:

(W)e may, by fixing our attention almost fiercely on the facts actually before us, force them to turn into adventures; force them to give up their meaning and fulfil their mysterious purpose.

And then he refers to high altitudes, a subject of immediate interest to me:
I have my doubts about all this real value in mountaineering, in getting to the top of everything and overlooking everything. ... It is from the valley that things look large; it is from the level that things look high ... . I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help; but I will not lift up my carcass to the hills, unless it is absolutely necessary.

A skyscraper doesn't awe us because it is big, but because it makes us small.

And flying doesn't awe me because the world seems smaller. That's only because my eyes are 31,994 feet further from the surface than usual.

Flying is "awesome" (original meaning, please) because I realize how small I am against the weight and meaning of a very large, very real world.

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