May 20, 2009

Seat 2A.

The young woman in seat 2A stared out the window like it was her first time flying. In seat 2C, I sat next to her, intrigued.

I asked her what she was looking at.

The young woman in seat 2A was a seasoned traveler, but for her, the luster of air travel had never faded. She pointed at a mountain peak below and explained:

Just a few decades ago, when people wanted cross those mountains, they would have to spend days on foot or hours on a rickety old train, never really being sure what was awaiting them on the other side. Today, we spend just over an hour flying over them and forget about just how beautiful but also imposing they really are.

It was a statement I had heard before, particularly in light of my sometimes-too-frequent complaints about business travel, but this time, as I stared out the window looking at the mountains beneath her slender fingers, I was reminded that it while it may be easy to take nature’s majesty for granted, you miss out on a whole lot when you do.

By the end of the flight, we were practically sharing seat 2A, peering out the window, pointing out interesting patterns in the rivers that criss-crossed the mountains below us and wonderful shapes in the clouds that flew by.

That night, after landing, I changed my preference for my return flight from an aisle seat to a window. I’m ready to capture that luster for air travel again.