Flying into D.C last week en route to New York, the pilot alerted us that we were beginning our descent. I looked out the window and we were completely engulfed by clouds; all you could see was a haze of white. Some minutes later, as the flight attendants made their announcements about preparations for landing, I observed that we were still flying in a complete fog—you literally couldn’t see anything. As we continued to fly on, it felt to me like we must have been circling the airport, as planes sometimes do, awaiting our place in line to land, because it certainly didn’t seem like we were descending out from the clouds, not even one bit. And even as the pilot made yet another announcement about our imminent landing, I just knew there was no way we were actually descending.
And then suddenly the clouds parted, and we were literally feet from the ground. And then we landed.
It was such a strange sensation—I was confident that we were still at 35,000 feet, amidst the clouds, when in fact we were nearly on the ground.
I mean, how absurd can you get? I had the pilot—the person actually flying the plane—telling me repeatedly that we would be landing soon. I had the flight attendants bustling all around me doing all of their “we’re about to land!” stuff. And yet I held firm to my assumption that they MUST be wrong. This was me: “Look out the window, will ya? Clouds! Everywhere! No sign of the ground—not even a glimmer of a road or a building! It’s not there, I tell you! What’s wrong with you people? … Oh. Sorry.”
It reminded me that just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
How often do we do this? I know for me it is probably more than I care to admit. I don’t see your point of view so I declare mine to be the right one. I don’t see how we’re going to solve a problem so I assume it unsolvable. I don’t see the beauty in a new home or office so I refuse to even try to embrace the change. I don’t find holidays important so I don’t understand why my loved ones want to have such a big celebration. Whatever it is—I think we sometimes… or maybe often… approach situations with an all-I-see-are-clouds-so-clouds-are-all-there-are mindset.
If I had trusted what the pilot was telling me was true, rather than stubbornly holding onto my own “truth,” then I certainly wouldn’t have been so startled when the ground literally appeared out of nowhere. Similarly, if I can trust that what someone is telling me might be true, even if I just don’t quite see it, it helps me make space for possibilities. If I can try something, even when I feel completely filled with doubt, I allow myself the opportunity to be surprised. Because you just never know what you'll find when the clouds part.
What might be right in front of you that you just can’t see yet?