Taking a flight home is far from the most exciting thing most people will do in their lifetimes. Most of us have done it before, time after time, so often that it’s become something utterly routine. We look out our windows, watching home grow larger and larger in the window, and feel a profound sense of… all too often, nothing, really. The event is something we’ve done often enough, when we’re tired enough or annoyed enough or preoccupied enough that it barely even registers anymore. But recently, something different happened to me.
I was sitting toward the back of the plane, as I usually do, and a pair of young children were occupying the row in front of me. Throughout the flight I’d been working and blasting music, essentially tuning them out completely, but as I was forced to put my laptop away and look out the window as landing approached, I could hear them again. Almost as if in reward, practically the moment I started listening, with the lights of New York glittering beneath me, the young boy started exclaiming excitedly to his father: “WE LIVE IN NEW YORK? WE LIVE IN NEW YORK??” Their father shushed him, but he didn’t need to: in an airplane full of sleepy or grumpy or busy people, the child’s excitement was profoundly affecting.
The exuberance of a child seeing something with more wonder in their heart than an adult isn’t exactly surprising. But it was the subject of this kid’s wonder that really made an impact on me. As this child exclaimed over and over his wonder at living in the blinking mass of humanity beneath us, the cityscape almost felt as if it was changing. Was it just me, or were the lights shining a little brighter, was the city looking a little more perfect? Of course, it was me. I was changing, taught by this young child to see the city through his wondering, awe-struck eyes. It was impossible not to look down at the city with just as much delight and wonder, not just at New York itself, but at being alive and coming in to land in a place I could call home.
It was that wonder that stayed with as I got off the plane. That wonder broke through something, made me feel how incredible it was to call this place, and indeed any place, home, and in doing so helped me understand what it was like, at least in part, to be that child. It was a moment in which the wonder of living in new York was just as real to me as it was to that child, in which feeling his wonder made him as powerfully real to me as I myself was. It was a moment in which I truly wish I’d had a camera.
With excitement and Optimism,