This December, Advanced Composition students studied, wrote, and recorded audio essays. Students wrote and recorded their own "This I Believe" essays inspired by the weekly This I Believe Podcast. While we're publishing the text of each essay below, we strongly encourage you to listen to each student's audio essay for a more intimate experience.
I believe in the power of flying. All of my life, everything important to me had been concentrated in one town. Sure, I'd been on plenty of road trips up and down the east coast, but my experience mostly consisted of piercing headaches and claustrophobia. The places I had traveled to just didn't feel extraordinary. Perhaps they lacked glitter to me because the journey itself was so close to the ground, so gritty and stressful. Once we'd reached the destination, according to our MapQuest directions, everyone was exhausted and irritable. Most people don't feel as cynical as I do about road trips, but I guess it all comes down to my childhood aspirations.
When I can't fall asleep, I always imagine floating over sleepy cities in a hot air balloon at night: a soothing sort of travel, yet vibrant in its scenery. Peter Pan was also my favorite childhood Disney movie, and my favorite part was when the pirate ship soared into the Neverland skies at the end, blazing with pixie dust. I remember watching that scene over and over and wondering how I could defy gravity. I connect flying with the idea of running alongside infinity, beating time at its own game. It's this concept of going so fast that everything around you slows and freezes and you're enwrapped with the sensation of being magical and free.
Last summer, I buzzed over LA in a plane. Take-off was at midnight, and I remember yawning every few seconds and complaining to my parents about the fact that I was going to have to sleep sitting upright. As I waited in line at the terminal with my family, the world was blurry. As I made my way to my spot of the plane, I was stumbling and aching to finally collapse with my head rested against the window. Luckily, that seat was mine. I heard the great rumbling of our ascent at last, and once we were at level with the clouds, I deliriously rolled my hand a little to the left. Then I saw it: the gleaming city beneath the stars. I was awed by the surreal blend of a clear night sky and twinkling LA lights. It transcended any other sight I'd ever deemed 'pretty.' What I saw was worth more than a simple adjective. I couldn't wrap it up in a neat little box and throw away the key. I suddenly knew what it was like to sync watches with the gentle waltz of the cosmos, while still hovering just a breath above human busyness. From so far up, the busyness dissolved into a silent, radiant pulse, and the inky black sky teased me with its mysterious beauty. I realized how tiny people truly are, but how hard they try to be big and bright.
I gained perspective on that night, and suddenly I knew that through flying, I could embark on the greatest of adventures, travel beyond the ordinary scope. I couldn't figure out why every other airplane window had the curtain drawn, but I still believe wholeheartedly in the power of flying.