Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Window Seat


Quiet time on an airplane is one of the last bastions left for every day meditation. I took advantage of my flight time this week to have a think from the window seat.

When I worked as a consultant in the "aughts", I flew a ton of miles. Over 750,000 to be exact. I stayed in a lot of hotels as well (over 400 nights to be exact), but that's for another blog post. What I learned sitting on planes is that a cabin is both a strictly confined space as well as an expansive dream chamber. Seats have gotten smaller over the decades of commercial aviation, but the same horizon-wide views fill the small window ports that open up to the sky above the clouds. At 30,000 feet, there is a sense of grand expanse unlike anything you can experience the ground, even at the top of a skyscraper. From high above the clouds, order appears from the chaos below - well-apportioned farmlands, urban centers, and jagged mountain ranges take their own measured place upon the landscape. The scenery lends itself to the sense that order can result from a variety of thoughts that might ruminate in the mind. Out of the chaos comes coherence or a new spark of inspiration for the next big idea.

That's what it seemed like, at least, if I pored through my paper notebooks from those days, which were filled to the brim with project notes and journal entries. The heady realizations and outcomes of deliberation, analysis, and emotional connection electrified pages and pages of notebooks that are now piled in my office closet. And I realize that a good portion of those pages were spurred on from a window seat not unlike the one that brought me home from a family wedding.

What is it exactly that makes a window seat such a thought-provoking place? For one thing, it is often (although increasingly less likely) the only place with an internet connection or ability to call someone (the demise of the Verizon Airfone service was coincidental with the rise of inflight internet, with an interesting intersection story). It's a place where people keep to themselves (for the most part, except when passengers get riled up), which means uninterrupted time. And a flight is often more than an hour (up to 16+ hours), which means a concentrated block of time. 

In other words, an accepted, uninterrupted block of time where people know not to - or cannot - contact you. The perfect time and place - with those inspiring expansive views - to think and reflect.

Which is what I did from the window seat on my way home. I look forward to my next trip where I can gain some new perspective high above the clouds.


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