A number of years ago I was driving to the John Wayne Airport in Newport Beach California, on my way to a meeting in Van Nuys California. It was very early in the morning, overcast and drizzling slightly; I had checked the weather forecasts and knew that my entire flight would likely be in the clouds. Cloudy skies meant that I would be flying my plane in inclement conditions and wouldn’t have much of a view of the beautiful California coastline and Los Angeles basin. I opened the hanger door and completed my preflight check. Just before getting into the airplane I did my attitude check - something I always do before flying. I remember not feeling particularly joyful nor depressed, it was just one of those dreary days. I picked up my clearance for the route I would be flying to Van Nuys, taxied to the run-up area where I would do some final tests, then I taxied to the runway in very low visibility conditions. Moments later, I took off and was flying in the clouds, barely able to see the propeller in front of me. As I continued to climb to my assigned altitude, I felt a bit anxious, but as soon as I broke out of the marine layer, I found myself bathing in pure glory.
The view was spectacular; I could not see anything below me except clouds, but I was bathed in beautiful sunlight. Out of the left side of the airplane was the top of Catalina Island, completely shrouded in the marine layer and on the right side of the airplane I could see the tops of mountains poking out through the clouds. It is a vision that has stayed with me all these years.
When our perspective changes, so does our awareness. From the ground, where it was dreary and rainy, I assumed my day would go the same. However, in the sky I saw sunshine, paradise, and felt pure joy. I continued my flight plan and prepared for the approach into Van Nuys Airport. As I descended back into the clouds, I brough with me the feeling of joy, so even though I was landing in dark, rainy conditions, the sunshine was still within me.
As I walked into the meeting, people were complaining about the weather and what a terrible day it was; they were totally unaware how beautiful a day it was above them. I couldn’t help but think how happy they all would have been if they had traveled with me on the flight. I don’t remember what my talk was supposed to be about that day, but I do remember making an impromptu speech about changing one’s perspective and becoming more aware.
My meditation practice has become like that flight I took so many years ago. I go through my morning ritual just like my preflight ritual, then head upstairs to my meditation room. I light a candle and some incense and instead of climbing into the cockpit of my airplane, I climb onto my meditation chair, throw a blanket around me, and start my timer. I take off into the clouds of my inner-self and soon emerge out of the darkness into the sunshine.
I can say, without a doubt, my meditation practice has changed my perspective and more importantly, increased my awareness. The first soul question of “Who am I?” has taken on a new meaning for me. Transitioning from activity into silence is a worthwhile journey.
Lifelong entrepreneur and resident of the 1000 islands. Started his meditation practice in 2018.
15.What am I Grateful For?