cokieng-airplane

This is my view from my window seat in an airplane flying from Manila to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It’s a short flight. Only one hour.

People tend to rail and hate against flights. How they are constantly delayed. How uncomfortable the seats are. How disgusting the food.

I’ve had my share of airplane rides in my young life. At one point, I was commuting by plane from our client’s office in Atlanta to Little Rock, New York, L.A. and on and on every weekend. While it eventually got tiring, I never got sick of it.

I rode my first airplane, as a grade 1 student, in 1998. It was my first vacation abroad with my family, to Hong Kong. It cost a lot more then — there weren’t budget airlines — and people couldn’t do it as much.

I sat in my window seat and watched the sun and the clouds and the tiny buildings and cars below me… It invoked a sense of overwhelming gratitude in me. Still does, always has. Of course, I don’t remember if I actually did this when I was eight years old. But for as long as I can remember, I get a window when I can, and try to capture that feeling in a photo like this one.

A few years ago, I was looking out of the 12th floor of a hotel in Hong Kong. It’s the international city nearest, easiest, and cheapest to fly to from Manila, Philippines — and by this time, flights could cost as little as $50.

I promised myself then that I will never be “too cool” to ride a flying metal machine across the sea, even if it’s to a city as accessible as Hong Kong is today. I didn’t think then that flying to Hong Kong was less glamorous than say, London, and don’t think now that it’s less amazing that I get to fly to Palawan.

There is an Ayn Rand quote that has always stuck with me.

I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can’t see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need?

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

That’s how I feel right now.

This post first appeared in Medium.com.