A version of this post was published in The India Currents Magazine: On a Flight to a Land Without Borders
I boarded the flight at the end of a long week. I was going to be away for a week, and I had spent weeks trying to get things in order for the week I was gone. It felt good to finally stretch one’s legs (as much as an economy seat would allow anyway), relax one’s senses, and stretch one’s mind.
The flight was strangely beautiful. It left in the evening, and as it took off, I left behind a sparkling firework of lights. The vast, urban sprawling city and surrounding areas looked kindlier from above. The freeways glowed like veins throbbing with cars as they crammed their way home for the week-end along the packed highways. I have watched ants with interest as they scurry about their daily duties and I felt we must look the same if someone were to be observing us. Maybe those monitoring satellites do have the feeling every now and then.
Bay area at night is beautiful from an airplane, however else it feels when one is on the road.
I fell into an uneasy slumber once we passed the populated sections and darkness fell. I looked out the window hours later, to be pleasantly surprised by the beauty that greeted me. The plane was gently reverberating with the satisfied sighs of sleep from most passengers. A few were watching the brightly glowing screens. I peered out of the window, at first unable to see anything since my eyes took some time adjusting to the sudden lack of light. Once I did though, it was marvelous.
I have always loved gazing at the moon while traveling. The feeling of us moving, and our beautiful cosmic neighbor giving us company even though we are moving so fast is surreal.
I could not see the moon just yet, but I recognized the belt of Orion. We were flying along side the big hunter as he made his way in his pursuit of the seven sisters across the skies. It is a strange feeling to watch the stars and a familiar constellation accompany us on the trip while we journey through the stars.
The Pale Blue Dot, as Carl Sagan so beautifully christened our lovely, if sometimes crazy planet, seems wonderful from high above. It helps us forget how judgmental, critical, harsh and war-mongering a species we are. While up there, borders and countries seem like a strange concept, like a tiger marking its territory. Can the tiger determine where life can flourish, where the weeds grow, or how many gusts of wind may swish through the bamboo groves? Our borders mean much the same especially when surveyed from the stratosphere: Meaningless asks from an arbitrary marking.
Musings from the wonderful book, Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris, took me to an uneasy land of half slumber in which strange dreams accompanied unknown stars through a flight that even a 150 years ago was nothing but a flight of fancy. Kate Harris’s work is one for every traveler’s soul.
I got up to see the moon looking slightly alarmed at still being up and about when the sun was rising. The pink, and orange skies twinkled benignly upon the clouds below, and all the world was still full of promise and expectant. The blush of joys unknown.