Yesterday I flew over the Rocky Mountains.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I have trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
– Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
~Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee, No 412 squadron, RCAF, Killed 11 December 1941
To still be able to experience the wonder of floating in the sky: beautiful thing number seventy-eight.
I’ve been in Sudbury for the past couple of days with my job. When I planned the trip, I didn’t anticipate the work that would suddenly consume me in the past week, and the relatively short travelling period – ten minute walk to the airport, 30 minute checking in and waiting, one hour flight, twenty minute collection of bag and rental car – is still a hole in the work day I can’t afford.
When I arrive it’s a luscious late summer’s day. I’m reminded that it’s really early autumn when I descend into the near-north landscape and find the annual show of autumn leaves has begun. In my mind I will the plane to hang there and let me look for awhile. I think of my father only an hour away on the island and I wish I’m visiting him instead.
I’m preoccupied with work during my stay. And at the same time I’m finding it tremendously hard to concentrate. I’d heard from some of my intuitive painting people from the workshop just past (post still coming!) that the mind would continue to want to play games and do its own thing after the experience. And as much as I hate it, I’m having to reel it in during this first big proposal since I started this job. The two-and-a-half days away are an unruly mental battle.
Today I return to the airport in Sudbury to go home and as much as it agitates me to think of time away from the document and how am I going to catch up, I’m really looking forward to that little journey in the sky. As we lift away from the earth, I’m engaged with the autumn colour, until the clouds begin to veil over the view. My half-day anticipation of colour and lakes and green fades away before my eyes and I sit back in my seat, resigned to being back in the city and work only an hour away.
My disappointment, however, washes away with the landscape when I am reminded what it is like to mingle with the clouds.
For an hour I float. I imagine I can stay here for as long as l like, up here where there are no proposals and no deadlines and my mind is free to wander wherever it likes. I wonder, is that what they were thinking of when they thought up heaven?