Monday, November 8, 2010

Finding Beauty At 10,000 Feet

I flew back into New York today. 

I've done a lot of flying in the past year. Between a need to abuse the one perk of my crappy retail job, studying abroad, and being involved in a long distance relationship, I spent a lot of time in and out of airports. And in that time, I learned a couple of things.

Never check a bag if you can avoid it, don't wear shoes you have to tie, hide your sexy underwear in case they search your bag, and always go for the window seat, because wherever you're leaving from or going to is prettier from 10,000 feet up.

My favorite time to leave on a flight is in the late afternoon. If I pick my seat right, I get to watch the sunset out the window, which is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and I get to glide into whatever city I'm arriving at when it is lit up for the evening. 

I'm a New Yorker, and there are a lot of things I like about living here. But a concrete jungle isn't really my idea of a beautiful place to live. The skyscrapers and the traffic feel cold to me. 

But from 10,000 feet up, New York City is beautiful. It glitters in the darkness like a million tiny Christmas lights. You're not caught in foot traffic, smelling garbage, or missing your train. The headlights of cars are strung together down the streets like diamonds, and everything is quiet. It's the most peaceful the city ever is. 

And while I'm still far above it, I can see the stars.

I had a moment, on the plane this evening. As we were preparing to land, I looked out the window at the city below me, and then up at the sky. There was a single star twinkling in the night sky. I was struck by the beauty of that single point of light in the darkness. 

But my plane descended, below the cloud cover, and the star vanished. I was closer to the ground where I could see all the things I didn't like about New York. I'm always slightly bitter that there is little beauty to be found in Manhattan. Central Park is my one exception to that notion, though it's difficult, even there, to find a place where the skyscrapers don't protrude. 

I pouted out the window at the disappearance of my star as we came in for a landing, but just before we hit the runway, I looked up again. And wouldn't you know it, through a break in the clouds, in the midst of the lights of the 6 other planes flitting this way and that across the night sky, there was a single star twinkling. 

Maybe the beauty is always there. We're just not always looking at it from the right angle. I can't look down on Manhattan from an airplane every time it makes me unhappy, and I can't always see the stars, but someone can. And maybe it makes them smile too.


1 comment:

  1. I love seeing a sunset from a plane. A sunrise...still pretty, but I'm usually not conscious enough to appreciate it.

    I tend to think that there's some kind of beauty everywhere. Sometimes, it's different than the kind we look for. Sometimes, it's unexpected. But it's there. As if it's waiting. Even in NY.

    Great post.