I’m not afraid of flying. It’s not one of the experiences I enjoy the most, but it’s far from pleasant. I love the hustle and bustle, and the anticipation of airport departures. I love people-watching and wondering where they’re going, where they’ve come from and all the stories in between.
But when I’m flying, I don’t usually pay much attention. I prefer to use take off and landing as the perfect excuse to do some reading – if I travelled abroad more often, I’d read a lot more books.
So I was pleasantly surprised to have been captivated by flying at a time when the holiday mood is fading, when your feet are aching and you’re yearning for home, but at the same time you wish you could stay another day.
As we lifted off the ground from Seville Airport, I decided to look out of the window. It was a beautiful clear day, after all, and I was on my way home with an odd sense of satisfaction, instead of the usual impending blues.
As the plane climbed into the sky, for the first time I noticed just how beautiful the sky is. My past few years’ obsession with the cosmos and the worlds beyond our own suddenly hit me, almost like an epiphany, but I’d like to avoid such a cliche. With headphones on loud, and the most spectacular blue line bending around the aircraft’s wing beyond the window, I was almost tear-struck by the beauty of our blue planet, its fragile atmosphere, and the sheer immensity that stretched on above as that most brilliant blue was slowly mixed with the black of space, like a palette knife smeared through the sky.
I think I got lost in those views for a good twenty minutes, and I couldn’t believe how oblivious my fellow 180-ish passengers were. Did they not see this the same way I did?
When a scene, a moment or a fleeting snippet of wonder enters my mind, usually, I paint it so that I can hold on to it for a while longer. I used to do it as a child and I still do it now, desperate to paint the things that inspire me most so I don’t lose that feeling of awe.
Perhaps it’s because the fasten seat belt sign was still on, and my sketchbook was just out of reach. Or perhaps because I felt a pencil simply couldn’t comprehend my magnitude of thoughts, I wrote about the sky instead:
From above, the clouds look like jellyfish with their tentacles caught in an unseen current. Everything appears to be moving in one direction while we fly against it. The mountains look deceptively flat, like mounds of dough worked smooth by manicured hands. All that gives away their height are the deep blue green shadows that betray the sheer cliffs.
From up here, we’re right inside that thin blue line. The earth stretches on forever ahead of you, punctuated only by the tip of the aircraft’s wing. The blue recedes the further away it gets, relinquishing its colour to the glow of the distant sun. But above you know that the deep blue stretches on much, much further. Who knew that the spaceman was just the best traveller of us all.
Then there’s the sea painted with the subtlest of stripes like a freshly mowed football pitch. Up here, the sea and the land don’t seem to meet at all, they barely touch but for a sliver of yellow and green betraying the current. The land could be floating, it could be flying like us.