From A Different Window Seat…

Due to the the extensive interstate and non-interstate travel of my youth, through my teens, and into my adult life, when I fly anywhere in the United States and look down, I’m certain to have driven on the roads below.  

Beyond the large and obvious landmarks of The Tetons, the Grand Canyon, and the Mississippi River, I always know what region I’m flying over, what towns and cities are below, and which roads break it all up. Flying over the United States is like being in a time machine that, in just a few hours, can visit every age of my life.

Last week, enroute to San Miguel de Allende, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, my flying experience was changed. Flying over the interior of Mexico, though I’ve been on a few roads and through a few regions, was strange. No less spectacular than flying over the American southwest, but foreign. No hillside, lake, village, nor road seen from above had ever been in my view before.

I looked for all the usual suspects — Shiprock in New Mexico, Lake Mead, the Colorado River, but nothing. The land formations, washes, and all the towns and villages were a mystery. As I took it all in, I couldn’t help but think the natives looking out the windows in front of and behind me, might know every square mile. At one point, flying over a massive body of water, I tried to recall what the largest lake in Mexico was. It had escaped me that I’d be flying over the Gulf Of Baja. One of my favorite places on earth to be on the shoreline, is differently spectacular from above. 

I thought about culture too. My daughter, an archaeologists, once told me that the word culture can’t be defined. I might’ve been the lone American male on my flight. I was also the only one in short pants with a ponytail. The other men, regardless of age, wore denim pants, leather shoes, and had well-groomed hair — and their shirts tucked in. Nearly every woman, regardless of age, had their dark straight hair pulled back in long ponytails. Despite my daughter’s edict to the contrary, I think that’s the very definition of culture.

My return flight, from Guanajuato to Tijuana was different — it was at night. Flying over the United States at night, I know well the difference between the lights of St. George Utah, Flagstaff Arizona, or the quad-cities of Illinois and Iowa. When I see a narrow line of lights stretching 100-miles in length from south to north, and it’s bordered by complete blackness to the west, I’m looking down on the cities of Colorado’s front range. 

Flying over Mexico at night was guesswork. Dozens, hundreds of clusters of lights below were indistinguishable — just a scattering of small towns and villages flickered into the slowly moving horizon. A half-dozen large cities surprised me. Maybe they were home to a half-million or a million people — I don’t know. They existed though, in airborne anonymity to me. I had no idea where I was.

Last week’s trip is a story for another blog — or two. Flying to and from though, wasn’t so much a reminder of how small the world I live in is. It was a reminder that the world beyond my world, though not infinite, is spectacularly large — and largely unexplored by me.

This is what I think about when I fly… Jhciacb 

If you dig it, please share and help spread the word. Oh, and there’s this from Graham Nash. Enjoy…!

All photos were taken with an iPhone 11, and with no color adjustments — only slight contrast adjustments when needed.

For Every (Fetter)man…

I spent a lot of my rolling time this week, thinking about Senator John Fetterman. More specifically, about the public perception of Fetterman‘s choice to take leave of his Senate seat, to address a mental health concern. Fetterman has dealt with depression, intermittently, throughout his adult life. According to sources, that depression became more severe after a recent stroke. Approximately 1/3rd of all stroke survivors experience some level of depression.

Members of the opposing political party, and some media outlets supporting that party, were quick to call for Fetterman’s resignation. They argued that someone dealing with a mental health issue was not fit to execute the responsibilities of that job. If living and dealing with mental a health issue precludes one from performing their job, at least half of America should be out of work, according to that reasoning. Fetterman’s decision to do what’s in the best interest of his mental health, is not only admirable, it was brave. It sets an example for others, that mental health should be addressed — like any other illness.

When past members of the senate and the house of representatives have dealt with physical issues such as heart disease, cancer, and other debilitating physical issues, their constituencies, as well as their contemporaries from both parties, have supported them. Failing to do this for a mental health issue sends a horrible message to the tens of millions of Americans who are already afraid to take that step into the hospital that Fetterman took last week — to get help. 

This shouldn’t be a partisan or a media thing. The stigma associated with mental illness is the largest barrier between those who need help, and the help that’s available to them. That we stand up for and support people dealing with cancer, heart disease, and other physical illnesses, but wince or belittle someone who struggles with mental health, is to our national shame. 

I’ve lived with mental health issues since I can remember. I can’t count the times that, in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day, I’ve thought about stopping whatever I was doing and checking myself into a hospital — because I felt I was profoundly incompatible with the world around me. And for that precise fear of being stigmatized, outcast, or perhaps put in the wrong level of treatment, I John Wayne’d my way through it, finding therapy in exercise, writing, and for 10 years of my life, through alcohol. Somehow, and by the grace of God, I’ve managed to stay ahead of it, though the shadow of depression still leans over me regularly.

Until we view and discuss mental illness in the same way we see cancer, heart disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, people will be afraid to seek treatment they need, and the problem will cascade, only to grow larger, and larger still. Regardless of your political persuasion, or what your agenda is in the voting booth, we should support Senator Fetterman in the same way we would support our own child. He set an excellent example for the millions of people who are hesitant to take the exact step that he took — a step that may have saved his life.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

If you dig it, please share and help spread the word. Oh, and there’s this from Tex Perkins and Murray Paterson. Enjoy…!