Above 30,000 Feet
The view from the flight out of LAX. Photo by Julia Flaherty.

Above 30,000 Feet

I have never felt simultaneously significant and insignificant at the same time.

Before leaving Wednesday afternoon to head over to my co-worker Carly’s house, so it was a shorter drive Thursday morning to Chicago, I was told by media professor Chris Shofner that flying would change my perspective on life.

He told me I would realize how small I was, and I did, regardless of the organic gluten-free airport chocolate cake I indulged in and eggplant cacciatore I had devoured the previous day during my travels to Los Angeles, California with other members of The Pointer staff. I’m naming my food babies Maddox and Shiloh, for good California measure.

The sky is a masterpiece. It’s as if it were crafted for safe-keeping, then later inhabited by humans who sought to make it something marketable and less majestic.

Despite my bank account, or lack of one now, I’d like to believe my first statement more than my last. I thought I might be afraid of flying, given that it was my first time doing so, but I was honestly taken aback. My breath was stolen at an altitude of about 30,000 feet from  the city and mountains beneath me.

Flying is a surreal experience. The only time I realized I was so high, was on my way back down, when I wanted so desperately to be back in the air or on my way to LA again.

Daytime flying is just as beautiful as nighttime flying, but in different ways. In the daylight, you play complement to fluffy dentist-white clouds. At night, the landscape lights up, and cities are shaped like little fire pits calling you to blow them a kiss good night.

Like embers, they are robust, but subtle. The cities capture your attention as they sting your eyes with luminescence and shine like humble diamonds buried in unlit caverns.

LA had many firsts for me. It was the first time I met my good friend and MissTrendShe.com collaborator Paul Brockmann, the first time I attended a documentary premiere, the first time I saw and felt the ocean, the first time I toured the West coast, and of course, the first time I flew.

I’m a person that feels more intrinsic rewards than external, so forgive me if I fail to communicate my woe, gratitude and inspiration in person. Please know, despite my inability to gush, I recommend having your breath stolen at 30,00 feet, walking aimlessly around LA for hours, and doing things you didn’t think you could. You can, and you will do these things if you desire to. That’s my honest belief.

Life isn’t as tricky or tough as it seems. Maybe my mind is still high in the air, but I’m going to tell you anyway to get lost, live fully and enjoy exceedingly in life.

My final pieces of actual practical advice follow. First, always wear nice, comfortable shoes when riding the train in LA.

People-watching in California should only happen when you’re on a plane, reading a celebrity-filled magazine.

My accidental third piece of advice is to not do homework on a plane. It is likely to incite nausea for the average student for more than two reasons, experiences show. Advil relieves, or Tylenol, whatever you prefer.

Also, always empty your bladder before boarding a plane. Always.

Finally, chew gum. It doesn’t have to be winter fresh, anything is good to take pressure off your unaccustomed ears. Side note- the guy sitting next to you who voluntarily says he’s flown 10 times this month for work probably has some if you forgot, so ask him. Now go get up in the air and look down. Just don’t look back.

 

Julia Flaherty

Arts & Entertainment Editor

jflah017@uwsp.edu

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