My mother always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride. About ten years ago, for her birthday, my father bought two tickets for one and I was to accompany her. I thought it would be the most serene experience. Floating above the city, quietly, seeing everything from a different perspective.
I was wrong.
It was loud and it was hot and crowded and the basket only came up to my hip and it was the first time in my life I experienced a fear of heights. I think my mother enjoyed it but it was a miserable experience for me.
When I flew to Mexico, I saw the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen from my window seat on the plane. But more than that, I had a strange revelation about air travel. It was astounding to me that two hundred people could be in a vehicle heavier than any transport truck and fly through the air. It was a bit of an obvious thing but still gave me pause.
One of my old favourite movies, which I haven’t seen in decades, is Inherit the Wind. In it, the Spencer Tracy character talks about how with every technological advancement, we lose a little something. Most specifically, with air travel, we’ve lost a little of our sense of wonder about birds and the way they fly.
I watched someone para-sailing yesterday. Being in a harness with a parachute being pulled behind a boat ten stories up over the ocean. It looked brilliant to me.
But I see and hear birds constantly. They travel up and down the ocean coast, rarely flapping their wings. Just gliding. It’s sort of remarkable to watch.
But I hate birds. When I lived downtown and had to walk along Lyon Street, near Somerset, there would be hundreds of them. Birds on a wire. And they all seemed to take aim at me. Valerie can attest that I was a prime target.
Nevertheless, flight is still a wonder to me. Planes, birds, air balloons, para-sailing… it’s a testament to human invention that we sailed the ocean, traveled the skies, went to space, and climbed every mountain.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much we have accomplished.
Now, if only we could feed ourselves.