I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.
Pain is a pesky part of being human, I've learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can't be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.
For everything in this journey of life we are on, there is a right wing and a left wing: for the wing of love there is anger; for the wing of destiny there is fear; for the wing of pain there is healing; for the wing of hurt there is forgiveness; for the wing of pride there is humility; for the wing of giving there is taking; for the wing of tears there is joy; for the wing of rejection there is acceptance; for the wing of judgment there is grace; for the wing of honor there is shame; for the wing of letting go there is the wing of keeping. We can only fly with two wings and two wings can only stay in the air if there is a balance. Two beautiful wings is perfection. There is a generation of people who idealize perfection as the existence of only one of these wings every time. But I see that a bird with one wing is imperfect. An angel with one wing is imperfect. A butterfly with one wing is dead. So this generation of people strive to always cut off the other wing in the hopes of embodying their ideal of perfection, and in doing so, have created a crippled race.
It was difficult to imagine that a full day hadn't yet passed since we boarded the airliner in New York. I paused. Medieval man believed that one was placed beyond the touch of time, and therefore aging, while attending Mass. What, I wondered, would he have made of those hours we left up in the sky? I would not change my watch until I gave the matter more thought.
An oceanic expanse of pre-dawn gray white below obscures a checkered grid of Saskatchewan, a snow plain nicked by the dark, unruly lines of woody swales. One might imagine that little is to be seen from a plane at night, but above the clouds the Milky Way is a dense, blazing arch. A full moon often lights the planet freshly, and patterns of human culture, artificially lit, are striking in ways not visible in daylight. One evening I saw the distinctive glows of cities around Delhi diffused like spiral galaxies in a continuous deck of stratus clouds far below us. In Algeria and on the Asian steppes, wind-whipped pennants of gas flared. The jungle burned in incandescent spots in Malaysia and Brazil. One clear evening at 20,000 feet over Manhattan, I could see, it seemed, every streetlight halfway to the end of Long Island. A summer lightning bolt unexpectedly revealed thousands of bright dots on the ink-black veld of the northern Transvaal: sheep.
The difficulty lay with the mind accommodating itself to the notion of the plane, with all its weight, defying gravity, staying aloft. She understood the aerodynamics of flight, could comprehend the laws of physics that made flight possible, but her heart, at the moment, would have none of it. Her heart knew the plane could fall out of the sky.
An airplane crossed the sky, and she imagined its interior-people packed in rows like eggs in a carton, the chemical smell of the toilets, pretzels in foil pouches, cans hiss-popping open, black oval of night sky embedded in the rattling walls. How strange that something so drab, so confined, so stifling with sour exhalations and the fumes of indifferent machinery might be mistaken for a star.