Perspective at 4500 Feet

Some people plan a secluded beach vacation, head to the family cottage or make plans with friends to hike the Rockies. My summer included a multitude of half-day trips in a single-prop aircraft.

My pilot-partner has been working on hours towards his commercial license, so by way of simply enjoying the process, we decided to devote our summer holiday to weekly flights (as weather allowed) around the province of Alberta. Talk about shifting perspectives; there’s nothing like being 4500 feet above the earth to start contemplating life. (It’s one thing to sit in the 20th row on a commercial airliner and quite another to climb-in over the wing struts and put on a headset in the left-hand seat of a Cessna.) Things get real – really fast!

Are you in the front-seat of your own life or are you simply operating on auto-pilot and along for the ride? Where is it you really want to go; are you headed in that direction?

There is something incredibly powerful for me in sharing in the planning and preparation for our flights – I have a voice in where we go, what we pack to sustain and nourish us and a responsibility to support the documentation of our trip. Co-creating is as much a part of flying, as it is in coaching. There is playfulness in sharing the process and dancing (or flying!) in the moment.

From 4500 feet up, I can ponder the activities and interactions that fill my calendar. Aside from the radio calls on my headset, I am free to contemplate the gravity of my daily life. It’s surprising. Just as the ground falls away on take-off, so do so many of the petty and trivial things I hold in my mind and on my to-do list. From a distance the drama in my world has about as much substance as the clouds we sail through as wisps of suspended vapor. A bigger perspective comes into view and even though I am thousands of feet above the terrain, my feet are firmly grounded in what’s important to me. Things get clearer.

What would your everyday activities look like from 4500 feet up? What would a little distance allow you to see more clearly?

I adore our time in the Cessna and it is a privilege to hold space with someone who is following his own dream. From this point of view – as the landscape passes below me – I can find my place in a bigger world and know that I am right where I choose to be, doing what is important to me for now. Now, THAT’S what soaring through life is about!


Close your eyes and in your imagination let yourself drift effortlessly above the earth. What do you notice? What do you observe from this place that wasn’t obvious before? How can you set yourself free to fly?

Photo credit of Slave Lake: L. Hamel
Photo Credit of west Edmonton: J. Waldon

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