It was odd. Unnerving. And a little disorienting too. After we took off from Hong Kong to the States, the mapping tool in the airplane that shows where we are in the world wasn’t tracking. The little airplane icon kept showing we were still on the runway in Hong Kong. Which was impossible since we had been in the air for some time.
Hours went by after the meal service. The cabin was darkened and the shades were pulled down, and still the map showed our airplane icon on the runway in Hong Kong. Most people on board were asleep or had their faces lit up by electronics. At some point about six hours after we took off, I stopped a cabin steward and asked where on earth we were. She asked me to wait while she went to ask the captain.
She came back a minute later and said, “The captain said in just a couple minutes we will be passing over the north pole.” Wow. I got up and went to the back of the airplane to the rear bulkhead and there I eased open the window shade. Blindingly brilliant sun light reflected off of the fractured polar ice below. Although we must have been nearly six miles in the air, the clarity and ice detail was astonishing. It seemed high noon on the polar ice cap and the ice detail was crisp and wrapped for miles to the horizon.
I closed the shade and turned back to look down the darkened fuselage of the airplane. Almost everyone was asleep, while we were passing over the north pole. I cracked the window shade again and gazed down at the glittering ice.
The experience led me to learn more about new flight paths over the polar ice cap from Asia and it reminded me of the wondrous moments we can experience when we get curious and seek new experiences.
When we keep our kids up late to lie in the yard and look up at a meteor shower. When we wake early to swim across the lake at dawn just as the birds are waking. Take off the headphones and listen to the conversations in the market. Look under more rocks. Sometimes it’s unforgettable.