If you can, take a look through the window at the sky and the world beneath you. See the ongoing performance of the cloud formations – sometimes dark and dense, sometimes heaped in white layers, sometimes light and fluffy with openings showing the earth below. Such a play of shifting light and shadow on the ever-changing terrain. You may get a chance view of brilliant sunsets and sunrises with rich tones of orange, red, purple lining the horizon.
When landing or taking off, you can see the rapidly approaching or fleeing earth beneath – fields, houses, mountains, mine dumps, city sights, electric lights at night, from the streets and windows or stars covering the earth as if trying to mirror the sky above.
Then you settle into the reality of sharing the inner space of this huge flying taxi, packed to the hilt like sardines. all privacy is surrendered; you will, without complaint, sit squashed elbow to elbow, bent-up-knee to bent-up-knee with a stranger (unless you are fortunate enough to be sitting next to a loved one).
You eat not-the-best food on a tray cramped on your lap. Some sleep; their mouths may fall open, they may snore. there will be smells of digestive discomfort made worse by this immobile sitting; smells of bad breath, or sweet perfumes; smells of feet and socks as people remove their shoes. You share the toilet with who-knows-who;walk along the narrow aisles with people pushing past bum-to-bum or trip over someone’s sticking-out foot. It’s noisy with talk, children crying or shouting and boisterous travelers chatting on top of their voices, with, behind it all, the soothing drone of the airplane engines.
And with all this, you might have chance encounters with interesting people. You may find in the little space which is yours – the small cramped seat – some inner peace, an intimacy with your book and your thoughts, and perhaps snatches of sleep and rest, grateful to know that, thanks to this, you can get there and then come home.