Flying out of LAX at sunrise typically takes you straight over the Pacific Ocean before slowly angling back towards your final destination (unless this happens to be Hawaii or China, in which case
eat me you lucky bastard have fun, and enjoy the duck foot soup rewarding cultural experience). As you quickly ascend to a few thousand feet, the world reveals itself in an array of blues and oranges and pinks, the moment made all the more magical as the g-forces on your head and belly enable a sense of floating weightless, high above the world.
As the first ray of sunlight creeps slowly over the faces of the half-asleep passengers around me this morning, I am for a moment struck by the juxtaposition of such overwhelming beauty and the absolute apathy of those entreated to its presence. And then I, too, close my eyes and drift away.
Being human, it seems, is comprised of an extraordinarily complex and difficult set of challenges. We are initially, and often continually, tasked with matters of mere existence, survival, for ourselves and our families. Whether it’s securing the body’s nutritional requirements for the day, providing shelter for the night, or ensuring the continued availability of these essentials, we engage in many series of behaviors whose ultimate goal is simply to remain alive.
Yet there are reminders everywhere around us, in plain sight yet routinely ignored, that the human existence is not ultimately designed to be an unending set of moment-to-moment struggles. That it isn’t just an exercise in making it through the day and into the next. These simple things–a sunrise, music, a deep breath, a smile–they are reminders that there must be some reason, some overwhelming, driving factor that underscores the busyness in which we engage to keep ourselves hanging around this big round ball of dust.
As we descend into Sky Harbor and I instinctively move to wipe away the line of drool seeped from the corner of my mouth only to find it’s already been sucked into the bone-dry desert air, this sensation lingers with me like a forgotten dream. But with every seatbelt click and overhead compartment clack, I am set in motion, thoughts focused on business matters of the day ahead.
A friend of mine once suggested that I remind myself in the morning of all the things I get to do for the rest of the day, not that I have to do. And my best friend (who’s been known to spring out of bed when it’s still dark and exclaim, Attie’s all done sleeping!) embodies this idea to its fullest. Ocean! Letters! Whole Foods! License plates! Every moment is an adventure, every repetitive, daily routine a new discovery.
At my best, I am able to maintain this enthusiasm in small bursts, and it is, indeed, freeing, relaxing, fun. As I make my way through the day, I try to remember just this one thing: enjoy. Metal detectors! Escalators! Starbucks! Tumbleweeds!
And I wish nothing but the same for you. Happy Friday.