As I fly back to New York City after spending the holidays in the Midwest, the clouds outside the airplane window mesmerize me. The sky looks like a desert or an ocean—which are opposites, and yet, the sky is neither of those things.
“The sky’s the limit.”
“Keep your head in the clouds.”
“Every cloud has a silver lining.”
The sky and clouds offer us so much more than these little phrases.
For all of the resistance I seem to have when it comes to plunking down money for expensive airplane tickets, I am here to praise the mighty passenger-bearing birds in the sky. Those amazing machines carry us to far-flung places, which are ripe with experience and future memories.
When I was a kid, I wanted to join the Air Force and be a pilot. I’m so glad my life took a different turn, but how fantastic it would have been to have an “office” in the friendly skies.
Planes soar above the weather with a singular destination, despite what is happening below. It is such a lesson for life. Airlines have a flight plan, and trained flight crew to help carry out that plan. Period. The pilot literally can see for miles above the clouds with no obstacles, just open space full of opportunities on a map. If we set a goal, prepare and train for it, make a plan, and then soar above the weather (our circumstances, people’s opinions, distractions, etc., etc.) and stay focused on the destination; the sky is truly the limit.
Don’t get me wrong - shoes off at security, checked bag fees, barebones offerings in coach, cramped space in the seats – those things are completely unpleasant (and unavoidable!) Sadly, those details are givens in today’s airports. I try to arm myself for the hassle with visions of the end. I am on my way to some fantastic place with people I love. All of this will be worth it once I arrive.
Before a trip, I am a headless chicken trying to get packed and out the door on time. I check the weather of my destination. A car service is called to take me to the airport. I organize food for the ride, reading material, camera, music, laptop, chargers… Headless. Chicken. After all that scurrying and hurrying, I am rewarded with time.
I am gifted with hours of stillness where I must sit and surrender. I practice trust and allow myself to be carried. I recalibrate and reattach my chicken head with the seemingly effortless forward motion of the plane. I literally get to sit with my head in the clouds and contemplate their silver linings. THAT is why traveling by airplanes is a luxury. Those moments of quiet are priceless.
When it all comes true
Just the way you planned
It's funny, but the bells don't ring.
It's a quiet thing.
When you hold the world
In your trembling hand
You think you'd hear a choir sing.
It's a quiet thing.
There are no exploding fire works,
Where's the roaring of the crowd?
Maybe it's the strange new atmosphere
Way up here among the clouds.
Happiness comes in on tiptoe.
Well, what do you know?
It's a quiet thing.
A very quiet thing...
I am quietly singing this to myself as I type. I hope my airplane seatmates aren’t disturbed.
When I was home, my Dad, from whom comes a great deal of my cooking inspiration, made potato soup for our Christmas dinner. My Mom and I helped. It was a sweet family effort, and such a treat to cook with my parents. For the Christmas dinner, I usually cook some elaborate ethnic menu by myself and this year we had this perfect little soup. A very quiet thing indeed, shared with the people I love the most. I think it is my favorite moment of 2013, and one of the simplest. Maybe you can make this recipe with the people you love the most. As you close out the year, think of all the quiet things that make up your happiness.
Potato Soup For A Crowd
5 pounds of russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1½ cups chopped white onion
1 cup chopped celery
6 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
8 tablespoons butter
2 cans evaporated milk
Grated cheddar cheese, scallions, crumbled bacon for garnish
Toss the potatoes, onions and celery in the flour in a big bowl. Generously season with salt and pepper. Let this sit for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a big soup pot, add the vegetable and flour mixture; stir to coat. Add just enough water to the pan to cover the potatoes. Over medium heat, bring the pot to a boil. Stir in the evaporated milk. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. The potatoes sponge up all the salt so it may need another generous seasoning. We made a little toppings bar with the cheese, scallions, and bacon. Comfort food at its finest!