The time spent in an airplane seat is a unique bit of time. We are liberated from decisions, and simply being is enough for a little while. Freed from mundane demands, it’s common to hear that creativity seems to happen simply and with ease on flights. Perhaps it’s from the changing geographical locations, or the liberation from gravity for a few hours. Or perhaps the wonderful random serendipitous events that seem to occur with unexpected frequency. I know that I am more often than not seated next to the loveliest and most interesting people on flights. Luck perhaps? Or does my expectation of pleasant conversation with a perfect stranger play a part? It’s true, I am an optimist at heart, and I approach a trip still, after many years of traveling with the excitement of a child. Glasgow? Why not? Oslo? Why yes! When traveling our day is not broken up into the usual sequence of events, our routines are disrupted as they darn well should be! For when we change our patterns, our rhythms, we change a bit ourselves. We become more open to the experiences of traveling. The joys and frustrations both. And that is the whole point my Dears! Trying new things, looking at views and truly seeing them, not just with your eyes but with your heart. Life is short, a cliche worth pondering daily. So when faced with the chance to chat up the neighbor in seat 7B, or visit Mykonos because there was a terrific last minute deal, do it! And when sitting with a view of the clouds below, let the wonder of the aviation age fill you. As accustomed as we are now to flying, there is still magic to be found in it if we allow ourselves to think about it. Wow. I was in one city a few hours ago, and soon I will be hundreds if not thousands of miles away in another. In the span of human kinds existence, miles were covered excruciatingly slowly, painstaking progress measured in days and weeks. So as I’m sitting in a seat, waiting for my ubiquitous peanuts and a drink, I’m going to smile and savor the brief interlude that is flying.
I confess, I have favorite words. I know, I know as someone who writes I should love them all, but who can resist mellifluous? Not I. English is my second language, not my mother tongue, but I humbly claim fluency after many years of being in a love affair with this extraordinary language. I keep finding little treasures, rarely used forms of expression that recall a gentler time. Now we are so very blunt. Whatever happened to a bit of irony? A slightly sarcastic wit that reaches closer to the target of being humorous, than simply mean? There is no need for a two by four and a hard whack where a properly placed innuendo will suffice. One of the loveliest words, and a top contender for favorite word of all time is….wait for it…..Perspective! The casual definition is that things appear different depending on our viewpoint. What a perfect metaphor for life! My perspective continues to evolve as I transition through all the changes that life sees fit to throw my way. When I encounter others whose views are starkly different than mine I try to keep in mind that they are on a different point in their journey and from their “perspective” things may appear differently. But then again , sometimes one does wish for a two by four……
We are all given a little while here on the planet, some get longer than others. For most, there is enough time to grow up, work, love and hopefully gain a little insight along the way. I am about halfway along in my journey and while a few things have gone according to plan, many have not. This is the case for most of us. By sharing my journey, the hard earned wisdom and perspective that only comes after a few humbling decades,( and aren’t they all?) I want to show that change is inevitable. Transitions to new stages in life can be good and that traveling connects us all. Taking our bodies to new places awakens our senses, we are forced out of our comfort zones and so the discoveries begin. A new flavor on our tongue, a different note animating our feet, and a scent that will stay with us and forever have the power to take us back in time. Change begets change. External relocation can trigger internal earthquakes. Our perspectives change and usually for the better when we meet fellow citizens of this planet, each of struggling with our own complex issue that modern life is so generous at dispensing. A few constants are recurring themes in my journeys. The ocean. She is everywhere and always ready to remind us of how very fragile we are. People, young, old, funny, sad and always interesting. The mosaic of humanity fascinates me. I am an observer of people and places, and of how our behavior is intimately connected to where we are and whom we are with. Our time here together is finite, let us lift each other up in a written form that shows we can transcend borders and oceans to connect globally.
The oceans are rapidly changing and not for the better. Already divers with several years of diving can be heard reminiscing about when reefs were healthier and fish more plentiful. One of the places that time has left relatively untouched is the Exumas in the Bahamas. As a marine sanctuary it been protected from over fishing and damage to the delicate slow growing coral reefs. The beaches are pristine and the gin clear sapphire blue water sparkles and is laden with marine life. I spent a week aboard a catamaran, diving several times per day, soaking up the astounding beauty all around me. Nature entertains the eye with more shades of blue than can be named, and each of the small islands is more appealing than the last. There are over 300 islands in the chain and more excellent dive sites that are close together than almost anywhere else. Visiting these islands is a chance to go back in time, to slow down the pace of living and appreciate that change has been slow in these parts. May it remain so.