Landing

The first time I have a clear memory of flying into Seattle was during college. I was headed there to spend the last few days of summer break with friends before making the cross-state drive back to school.

“There are SO many trees,” I remember thinking. The beauty of Seattle was apparent – lakes filling in every crack between the green hills, an enormous skyline accentuated by a massive needle, and little white boxes dotting the land like decorations on a giant Christmas tree.

Aesthetically, the descent into Seattle is one of the most pleasing. Flying back to the Bay Area is a winner, too, especially if you cruise around San Francisco on a clear day, before gliding in for the landing. New York is a breathtaking sight to behold from above. Arriving in Malaysia last summer was full of lush trees and sticky, sweet sunshine. 

These are all wonderful places to see from above. But what really makes landing  so exciting is the anticipation. When I land in Oakland or San Francisco, and make that glorious loop around the Bay, of course I see buildings and landmarks that remind me of fond memories. The nostalgic recognition makes me smile, and the view itself is oftentimes jaw-dropping.

But as I sail over Berkeley or make my way toward the glittering Golden Gate, it’s the anticipation of what’s on the ground that really gets me. The opportunity. The familiarity. Knowing that as soon as I get into that city, I have friends and family waiting for me. I have endless options as to where I want to eat, drink and hang out. I know where I can go, and what I want to do. I know where I’ve been and what I’ve done and the memories are comforting.

And it’s all right there, below me. Spread out like a welcome mat, reminding me that the world is ripe with ways to make a day meaningful. Whether you’re landing somewhere new or flying back home, it’s the sheer excitement of the coming days – the new adventures – that gets the blood pumping.

Landing in Iceland last summer was the strangest feeling of my life – completely isolated, gray, icy, unknown. I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that it was going to be a fun adventure. Eventually, that feeling of tire on runway turned the dreams into a reality.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The view from the sky is undebatably majestic, no matter where you are. It’s an angle of the world’s beauty that we only see occasionally, and think about even less. But as we start cutting through the clouds to touch back down, it’s the thought of what awaits us that really tugs the corners of your mouth into an involuntary smile.

It’s fear, excitement and hope. It’s the friendly faces you haven’t seen in months, the familiar ones you see every day. The secret spots you love to visit or the reminder of all the things you still want to do.  It’s the friendly faces you haven’t met and the secret spots you’ve yet to discover.

Cruising through the sky is the closest you can get to heaven, if you believe in such things. But to me it’s obvious that we’re really in our heaven when we descend towards that beautiful view and touch down on the earth and its millions of possibilities. 

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