This is a poem by Jon Jorgenson, an author, speaker, and spoken word poet whose YouTube videos have been viewed by more than 20 million people. This is a poem about our life and how we get so caught up in the details of our day-to-day routine that we lose sight of the grander scheme of things.
When I was seven years old, I flew in a plane for the first time,
And I created a game for myself.
Count the number of backyard pools you see.
You miss one, you lose.
When I turned twenty-one, I flew to Los Angeles,
Which was a first for me on two accounts:
My first time in L.A,
And my first time losing the swimming pool game.
For the least captive audience ever,
You try and tell me what to do in case of a water landing.
But what you don’t understand is I put the frequent in flyer.
Collecting reward, which really only amounts to flying more.
Gazing out my rounded rectangle, I never miss the takeoff.
The slow zoom as things bigger than you fade smaller and smaller until they become so distant that I can’t even squish them between my fingers anymore.
Imagine how a bird must feel the first time it swoops down to land on the ground and thinks,
That house is much bigger than it looks.
I like it better up there.
Where you’re the first to know the weather,
Suspended between time zones and atmospheres,
I get antiquated with the clouds,
Cheating death and gravity for $329 plus tax.
From up there, I see where roads begin and end,
And I want to cheer on the cars, you’re almost there, it’s just around the corner, you just can’t see it yet.
From up there, I see small clusters of light reminding me of brain activity scans
And I think, a city is perhaps a synapse of God’s brain.
Lighting up where connections are being made with the almighty,
Which makes sense why most of the earth below is so pitch black.
With the seatbelt sign turned on and the man in the aisle seat white knuckled on the arm rest,
I remind him that no plane has ever crashed from turbulence.
But if we had the choice, don’t you think most passengers would give up before it passes?
What if on the ground we had no choice but to strap in and wait it out?
How many still fathered children would there be?
How many unsigned divorce papers?
How many unread suicide notes?
How many of us would stick around if we knew that what is turbulent is ultimately harmless?
And that, though annoying, the change fee is necessary.
Because change never comes free and I’ll gladly pay the price if it will get us where we’re going faster.
But we fail to recognize that if your name’s on the suitcase,
It’s just gonna come around again, and again until you grab it.
The turnstile of life keeps kicking back what you refuse to pick up.
In other words, we all have to claim our baggage before we can move on.
From up there, I can see all that.
But from down here, I’m lucky if I even take the time to look up and wish I could fly.
The Poem’s Meaning
“The slow zoom as things bigger than you fade smaller and smaller until they become so distant that I can’t even squish them between my fingers anymore.“
Our world as we know it (our house, neighborhood, school…etc.) looks so much smaller when viewed from in the sky. It’s comparing taking off from a plane to taking a step back and zooming out of our everyday lives and looking at the bigger picture.
“From up there…”
Our live look very different when we look at as a whole. I remember hearing this phrase that goes something along the lines of: “you can’t see the bigger picture when you’re in the frame.” And that’s so true.
“From up there, I see where roads begin and end, and I want to cheer on the cars, you’re almost there, it’s just around the corner, you just can’t see it yet.“
Sometimes in life, we feel so trapped and hopeless. We ask ourselves, “when is it going to end?” This is talking about how when things are hard and it all seems so difficult, it feels this hardship is never going to end, and by looking at your life as a whole, you can see that it’s almost over, you just can’t see it.
“I remind him that no plane has ever crashed from turbulence.“
Turbulence: the struggles and hardships of life.
When you experience turbulence on a plane, you buckle in, hold tight, and eventually it subsides. It was temporary, no big deal.
But how many of us give up on ourselves when life gets hard? Like turbulence, our troubles are temporary.
“From up there, I can see all that. But from down here, I’m lucky if I even take the time to look up and wish I could fly.“
From up above, when we look at the bigger picture of our lives, we can see it all: when our hardships begin and end, how far along the next storm is.
But when we’re on the ground, when we’re so absorbed in the day to day grind of things, so focused on how tough things are, we don’t ever stop and think about life as a whole.
The turbulence that pervades our lives seems to last forever when we’re so engrossed in trudging through the viscous muddy waters of life. It’s so foggy that you can barely see three feet in front of you.
We become tunnel visioned, and we start to lose hope.
When you’re in the gutter and down in the dumps, take a moment to stop, zoom out, and remind yourself that turbulence is temporary.
In the whole scheme of things, the whole however many years you’ve got left, how bad is it really to get through this horrible month, or this stressful week, or this bad day?