Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thoughts Above The Clouds

Above the clouds. Flying from Houston to Minneapolis on September 11, 2009

I look out the Emergency Window, and the sky is so grey that I cannot see past the wing. I am flying in a DC-9 that is taking me home from my week of work in Texas. We are flying through thick, endless clouds.

One of the things about business travel that my dad and I like to talk about is the experience of breaking through the clouds to see the blue sky above. We especially like those early morning flights, where you are rewarded for enduring weeks of gloomy Minnesota Winter when you take off and get up into that milky, warm, sun kissed purple dawn.

On the current flight, the blue sky ain't coming. It is already 20 minutes post-take-off and we are stuck in high hanging meteorological muck. I tell myself not to get nervous - that the blue ozone is still somewhere up there where the weather system cannot reach. But it gets claustrophobic watching my reflection stare back at me, bouncing off the opaque sky.

I temporarily distract myself. I take out my Pop-Buddhist-Feel-Good book and learn about present mind and awareness. I look back out at the sky, frustrated that I am not getting my fix. It's like sucking down a stiff drink and getting zero buzz.

Where is my blue sky, dammit?

Resigning myself to the fact that, yes, we could indeed be flying through clouds at 35,000 feet for the next two hours, I let go of my expectant hopes for a sound release.

Then, suddenly.

It's like I have finally gotten to that point where I am no longer holding in my breath to keep the airplane up, and I happen to glance to my left.

That's when I see this.

Like cold ice cubes hitting a blue slushy, the sky is suddenly split into a blue frosting and white cream layer cake. Ah ha. There she is. My blue sky. Then comes the familiar urge to capture this moment, but the only camera on me is my iPhone. I risk it and turn on my phone, then quickly switch it to airplane mode. I snap a pic of my ozone sighting, then diligently turn my phone off.

Then, once the moment is captured, I put in my headphones and soak up the view. What comes next are the thoughts. I get these thoughts. They are different than normal thoughts on land. These are thoughts that can only come at cruising altitude above 30,000 feet. These are the thoughts I get above the clouds.

I have always been this way, ever since I was little. When I ride on airplanes, my mind switches to some strange analog mode where I see life differently. The whole world is down there, and I am all the way up here.

My mind languidly flows over memories and future fantasies. I lose track of what is pressing and "important." I see things at what Business Bullshit Bingo calls, "The 30,000 foot level" for all aspects of my life.
  • Have I found my vocation or is it yet to come?
  • Will I ever find someone and get married?
  • Am I destined to do something great?
  • Am I completely missing the point of all of This?
The thoughts above the clouds are like a gift from my subconscious to my conscious. It's like my subconscious says, "Here, Conscious. Take a hit of this shit. You will totally forget your piddily dink worries and you might have some space in your head for some real thinking."

When it is time to come back down through the clouds and land, my conscious mind comes back. But it is always altered in some way. I have a different view on this or that. I decide that I really could make my life much easier if I just bought groceries...I wonder about why I avoid simple self-improvement when I know it is holding me back...I find myself in a changed position and, if I hold onto the above the cloud thoughts, I know I can move my life forward in a better direction.

It took a long time to get above the clouds today. It was fittingly metaphorical because my life sure has a lot of fog, clouds, and general lack of visibility at the moment. But, what do you know, that blue sky was still somewhere waaaaay up there, just waiting for me to visit it.

It has been a long while, but, I saw it. I saw that mass of open space of indigo ozone where my head could open up, clear its hard drive and sluff off the dead skin for some fresh thinking.


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