“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth”…

Every pilot knows this line, but many mechanics may not.  It was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr, who was killed at the age of just 19 while flying a Supermarine Spitfire (yes, THAT Spitfire, with the awesome monster mouth on the cowling inlet).  He wrote the poem, actually a sonnet, in August 1941, shortly before his death.  Flying a Spitfire at 19…I guess I was born in the wrong part of the 20th century!

Anyhow, the poem describes the feelings one gets when piloting an aircraft, and I felt it today, even though I was merely a passenger reading about flying in a magazine.  I looked down from our vantage point at 38,000 feet (headed west, if you’re direction-vs.-altitude-keen), and saw a snowy, cottony blanket of clouds for most of the trip.   It drew my eye naturally toward the separation of earth and sky at the very farthest point on the horizon for a long while, and I marveled at what must be literally the longest sunset on the planet; when you’re flying west at five- to six-hundred knots, and the Earth spins at roughly 1,000 knots, it just never seems to end.  Once it got dark, and the sky above matched colors with the sky below, I saw a shooting star far, far off the left wing of the plane, that made me wonder if I’d been the only person to see it.  I wished on it, and smiled to myself about it.  My soundtrack didn’t hurt, either…I bought Brad Paisley’s new album, “American Saturday Night,” not long ago, and a song called “Then” was playing at the time on my iPod.  That song was the first dance that Allison and I shared at our wedding, as newly minted husband and wife.  (If you like today’s country music, I don’t see how you couldn’t enjoy the music on this album.)

Anyway, it’s a neat little memory that I keep with me to remind me of a certain point in my life–the broke-as-a-joke, newlywed point in my life.  Soon though, we’ll dig out of it, and start running on all 12 cylinders, and  get on with our biggest plans.  I’m sure of it.  Until then, old poems and new music seem to invade the consciousness of my goals…

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