Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Flying High

Once upon a time, I discovered how to estimate a plane's altitude during a flight by looking up, not down.

Looking down is easy. There are plenty of clues to help you along the way. Cars scurrying ant-like down the road. Patchwork-quilt fields and forests. Brilliant city sprawls. Snow-capped mountains, foam-capped waves. Puffy clouds all in a row, and a higher layer of wispy mist.

Looking up is awe-inspiring. A whole new world, as they say. The sky is not just forever a uniform bright blue. Planes flying high over the water, crossing oceans, jumping between continents, they're flying really high. Into new layers of the atmosphere. And when you've climbed high enough, through enough layers, the remaining atmosphere is thinner. Not so much stuff between us and the nothingness of space anymore. The sky becomes darker. And if you look closely enough, you can see space.

It can be just as heart-stopping to see into space from our atmosphere, that thin layer protecting us all, as it is for astronauts who see into that thin layer from space.  Gives you a whole new worldview.

And so, that's why I always choose window seats when flying. The end. 

 (Also, P.S, that's why I translate. One of the reasons, at least. Whole new worldview, and sharing it with as many people as possible.)