Life at 30,000 Feet

I don’t fly all that often. Maybe a half dozen times a year. Certainly not as much as some people. When I do, I have plenty to complain about. The seats are way too cramped. People don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze. I never have a functioning TV control on my arm rest.

But then I look out the window. We’re up, above the clouds. It’s always sunny up here. All the worries, frustration, and stress of down there melt when I’m up here. For that moment, when I see the magnificence of the world below me and realize what a remarkable feat it is that we’re even floating up here at all, everything else stops. If only for a while.

That’s what the 30,000 foot view is like.

Down there on Earth, our day to day lives are mired in events, things, situations. We please some people. There’s no pleasing others. We rush from meeting to meeting, place to place, never having enough time and trying to do too much. But here, at 30,000 feet, there’s not a whole lot we can do. We can’t change much up here, like the fact that it’s always sunny above the clouds. We definitely can’t just get up and leave. Does that mean we’re stuck? Well, maybe. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

At 30,000 feet, we’re literally a step back. (Well, a whole lot of steps back.) We can see the things below us as a whole. We see how the rivers connect to the oceans, how the land is being used, whether for cities, or food, or travel. We understand at a glance how everything is interconnected.

When we’re down there, we don’t see things the same way. We can’t see the rivers, so we forget about them. We can’t see the farms, so we take them for granted. We can only see the bumper of the car in front of us, not the whole road. We forget to appreciate anything that is outside of our own periphery. We continue like this, day in and day out, rarely expanding out of our immediate space and the the situations that confront us. It wears on us. We become captured in our own minds, working and toiling, and stressing for what? The answer never comes.

Until we climb above.

Up here, we can not only look at ourselves, but we can clearly see everyone else too. We think about our family, friends, colleagues, students – and suddenly, they stop being separate from us. From up here, everyone is with us. We’re the same, in every way. It’s just our circumstances that are different. We all have the infinite potential. We all have the ability to dream. From the 30,000 foot view, problems become easier to solve. Difficult situations and people become easier to deal with. Answers become apparent.

Down there does have its share of problems. There’s bad situations and bad luck everywhere. From up here, though, it looks beautiful, and peaceful, and serene, and full of possibility.

Wouldn’t that mean then, that the secret is to always look at things from the 30,000 foot view?

[photo credit: Robert in Toronto on Flickr]

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  • October 2, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Absolutely adore this post, Sue. I think we could all do to look at things from 30,000 feet from time to time. Who knows, perhaps it could even become the norm if we do it often enough…

  • October 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Very thought provoking Sue. I think this summarizes addresses something we all need to do – remember how precious life is and enjoy every aspect of it. I will mention your blog post next time I discuss this with friends. What a great way to nudge people to keep a “30,000 foot view”.

  • October 3, 2010 at 9:34 am
    Mickey Gomez

    Wonderful post, Sue. Such a great reminder to take a break (and take a breath) and not get caught up in the little things all the time.

    I think the secret is changing your perspective. Sometimes you need the 30,000 foot view, sometimes you need the close-up. The trick – the part I have trouble with – is recognizing when you need to make the switch. 🙂

  • October 3, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Wonderful post, and the sole reason I still like to fly even though there is far more to add in terms of passengers not behaving well …



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