Have you ever felt something is missing inside? In the last few days we were in a great state of anxiety waiting for what seemed that was bigger than our lives. Yes we were about to start something big but it might not be as big as we think when we tweak our perspectives a little.
Yesterday we “finally” left Seattle for our new adventure flying a single-engine airplane to Chile. Finally is in quotes because although the delay was longer than expected (due to export documentation) it is never too much to stay in the state of Washington and around the Seattle area. Did I tell you that this is one of my favorite places in the world? Well, in the summer it is. But in the winter if you are not in the mountains skiing and enjoying the white landscapes you might see a grey and cloudy Seattle. Unless you have the good luck of being here during the 2015 winter! The days were so beautiful and “spring-like” (with all the cherry trees around the city blossoming) that, despite the anxiety for starting the journey, it was not that bad to stand around waiting.
We took off with amazing blue sky almost hypnotized by one of the most iconic image that gives a frame to the postcards of Seattle, the majestic volcano Mt. Rainier, which usually in winter days is hidden in the clouds. Today it is spectacular and the desire to make a flight around its cone was tempting but as we do not have much time left and we are on an instrument flight plan (in this kind of flight we have to follow every command from the controllers). We were lucky however, and we were diverted towards it before turning to the West and following the Pacific coast to Oregon.
Oregon is also one of my favorite states and that flight summarizes why I like it so much. We follow the coastline for most of the time and the scenery is dramatic. I look down to the right side and see the waves crashing on the giant black rocks standing out from the sea. Some of them look like parts of the moon or even comets that fell from space along the beaches and every now and then, a lighthouse sticks out on the top of them adorning and creating a “perfect picture”; in motion!
In the next instant I look to the left and see a chain of volcanoes covered by glaciers. We are not so high, but the day is so clear that we can easily count 6 out of the 18 volcanoes along the Cascades mountain range. The mountains in the background are covered by the largest trees in the world; the “Red Woods”. Although the landscape below doesn’t seem as green as the last time I flew this leg, the setting is still very striking. But I must confess, these trees that look so small from up here, are even more impressive when viewed from the ground.
I’ve had the opportunity to drive the same route a few times (one of them when driving more than 6000 km from Miami to Seattle with my brother) and being down there looking up to the enormous tress gives you a unique feeling: Of being tiny, like dust. It is like flying, because we realize how small we are and at the same time how our daily worries are so insignificant. It makes you realize how much time we waste on useless thoughts when we should be just living the present instant and that feeling extends to every moment of our life, not only when we are immersed in breathtaking scenery like this. These moments have the power to make you realize how many details go unnoticed in the rush of daily life: The song of a bird, a flower, a child’s smile. Sometimes all we need is a shift in our perspectives to see things differently, feel a little better.
Have you ever felt that you might have everything or at least the basic things for survival and it still feels like you are missing something? It’s probably because we live in a society that makes us believe that “stuff” brings us happiness. So we go on with our lives on the waves of conformity, spending most of our time doing what others think is important, we accumulate, we think too much of “having” and forget of “being”, we become what others think of ourselves. Being from a poor country and growing up seeing poverty daily reminds me that if I can see much happier people living in the poverty than my rich friends in the first world, to be happy is something more simple. It must have to do with giving the right value to the simple things.
Funny how I miss that feeling of being small to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of what we daily consider insignificant. It’s a bit contradictory to talk about it right when we are doing something “a bit complex”, I know, but these moments can be the fuel to live with joy in the most ordinary days. Up here near the clouds as often happens, I photograph the landscape naively trying to capture that feeling so I can never forget: I am happy because I live in that exact moment with intensity and likewise I can be as happy as when I am present with full attention to moments that we usually tag as “ordinary”.
We do NOT have to go on a big journey, to have a big house, a powerful car to feel at peace. Happiness or whatever you call that great feeling, we will only find it within ourselves. I know it sounds cliche, but only those who find it in the right place will know that it does make sense.
At the end of our flight Santiago takes the control of the plane to show me a GPS approach. (I did not have one when I flew to Brazil) and to follow the procedure we have to fly over the airport and away from it for almost 10 minutes heading into the ocean. With my attention between the procedure and the amazing sun setting in the Pacific waters, Don taps me on my shoulder, I look back and with tensed wrinkles in his forehead he asks me: Where will we land? Although he did not understand what I explained, I know my laugh makes him relax and soon after we rotate 180 degrees, we turn on the runway lights with 5 rings on the intercom and we see the rocks in the sea and the landing strip approaching.
To concentrate in a landing is like meditation, we are fully present in that moment. Santiago lands gently, Don squeezes his shoulder and we all with a smile on our face seem to communicate: Part One: Accomplished!