I have this memory from when I was a kid and our whole family went to San Francisco on vacation. The room (suite?) we stayed in was on the top floor, offering us this magnificent view of the city through a huge window that covered what I remember to be the entire wall and ran floor to ceiling. As you can imagine, my siblings and I, being young and fearless and completely unaccustomed to beautiful cityscape views, responded by plastering our small selves against the glass and staring out at all the everything.
Which apparently made my dad a little nervous, because I remember being gently (if urgently) ushered away from the glass.
And honestly, I can’t say I blame him. Because I rather doubt I would be able to do the same thing today, no matter how strong I “knew” the glass was. Chalk it down to a greater sense of my own mortality, or the realization of just how far down it was to the ground. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have a true fear of heights, but I definitely have a certain… respect for them.
That being said, I love the views you get when you do get up high. And close to the edge. I noticed this the other day when I was up several floors in some building in LA, and the hallway ended up going along the edge of the building and the entire wall was made of glass that let you see out and down. I wasn’t expecting it, and I felt a sudden excitement somewhere in my gut.
It was a similar feeling to the one I get when I’m in a plan looking down, especially at take-off or landing. When you’re already at altitude it can be easy to just accept that this is what the world looks like through the window of a plane, but when you actually watch the ground fall away or reach up to meet you, that illusion gets shattered. And it’s amazing.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except to try to put down my thoughts on something that clearly touches some deeper part of me. As a writer, there’s always value in finding these things, because once you realize it, it’s easier to synthesize it and draw connections to other things. I’m never going to ride a gryphon through the clouds, but I’ve ridden a horse at a gallop and I’ve flown in a plane– so I can imagine what it must be like.
Or maybe something just took my breath away, and I want to share it with all of you.