Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why Angels Have Wings

After escaping an endless string of near misses, the band of new friends loaded themselves, a suitcase of cash, and their pet elephant onto a military aircraft. An old friend was doing them a favor. What started as a forgettable end to life, became a few days of memorable madness. This was the crescendo. Then it was gone.
Lifting gracefully and unhurried from the runway, the takeoff was the escape. The island where they went, the environment, and a new outlook on life were the results. It was the aircraft’s departure, though, that represented freedom.
What I have described is a scene from a B-movie Ginger and I watched recently. Its plot was very familiar, as was a specific scene. Be it books, movies, or stories told, the moment of survival, the actual point where escape is made, is the moment people depart and are transported to another place. In all three, this is most often an airplane.
Think back to how many movies you’ve seen where the goal was to get to a plane and take off? The more you think about it, the more you’ll begin to see the pattern. There’s a reason for this.
Aviation offers humans what may be the greatest window to freedom. So much so that the mere sight of a plane lifting off washes you with the feeling of relief. That is why it is commonly used. It’s an easy way to trigger a positive emotion.
Since the beginning of aviation, pilots have attempted to describe it. Most have felt it, strongly. Nearly all are compelled to explain it. The expression of sights, scents, and sounds have been used. Emotions and physical sensations have been, too. Few, if any, have ever achieved a perfect verbal painting of that thing aviation offers most, freedom. As for me, I believe there’s a reason for this.
One cannot touch, taste, or own good. Good is good. This also means one cannot create good. It exists with or without us. Yet, though it is beyond what we are, we can see it, use it, experience it, and benefit from it.
When it comes to the language of physics, a common method of getting people to think about a dimension beyond ours is to say each is a cross-sectional shadow of the next greater. A one-dimensional shadow on the ground, a line, is cast by something two-dimensional, length and depth. Add width to length and depth and you have three dimensions. When light hits this, it will leave a two-dimensional shadow on the sidewalk. Can you imagine something that would leave a shadow in three dimensions?
Although there are many technical problems with the example above, it does serve the purpose of explaining what good is; something we will never be able to draw a picture of or easily explain yet something that is clearly present.
This is why I believe flight has captivated so many. Those who experience it, uncorrupted, see and feel what others do not - the freedom offered by another dimension; a dimension in which good is created. Read the works of aviation’s best poets and you’ll feel it in all of them. One man, John Gillespie Magee, finished off “High Flight” with the following words.
“And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."
This is why angels have wings. It’s why the soul is always said to lift from the body. And it is why only the coldest of hearts or pure evil seek to restrict it.
Flight is a medium in which good travels. Climb the highest mountain and you will still be Earthbound. Deliver open eyes to the heavens and you will glimpse another realm. It is there, behind the curtain of clouds. Enter it and you are changed. Life, from that point on, will be a battle between the chains of society and your unwillingness to accept them.


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