This past year, I have done a lot more flying than usual, which has caused me to reflect on a question a friend once asked me:
“When flying, at what point did you stop wanting the window seat and want the aisle instead?”
What point in your life did you trade in the exciting window seat filled with new sights and wonders for the control of the aisle seat?
I remember as a child flying with my old brother and sister to Colorado to go skiing when they pointed to the clouds billowing below us. The convinced me that those were the Rocky Mountains (some call it gullible, I call it trusting). I also remember evening flights, where I would watch out the window as the lights of a city twinkled below, or spying on the MicroMachine-eque cars way down below. Why did I ever stop wanting that window seat?
Why, instead, do I prefer the aisle seat so I can jump right up as we beginning taxiing to the gate, or grab my iPad from the overhead once we are in air, or pop to the bathroom without having to ask for permission? Is it because of my persistent need for control?
When I met with a friend and heard his story on the Miracle on the Hudson, he helped me understand what bothers me about flying: the lack of control. I buckle myself into the seat, and they lock the cabin doors. At that point, I am trapped under the power of the pilot and physics. There is absolutely nothing I can do. So perhaps by grabbing the aisle seat I am grasping for this false sense of control.
It made me wonder: how much do we grasp for a false sense of control in our life?
Only to discover that its just pretend. Like grabbing an aisle seat, we try to create this fake sense of control. However, as life unwinds we realize that gravity, genetics, and sin actually have far more control over us then we’d like to admit. Reinhold Neihbur writes,
man is insecure, and…he seeks to overcome his insecurity by a will-to-power…he pretends he is not limited.
If we stop these desperate grabs for control, and pause for a moment, we would discover a truth many of us are hesitant to admit when we:
- realized even if we work hard, we may be one day handed the pink-slip.
- discovered that even if stay healthy, we may one day be given a biopsy result that rattles everything.
- noticed that no matter how well we parent, our kid’s lives may spiral off.
- struggle to understand just how to make some woman in our life love us.
Tim Keller writes in Counterfeit Gods,
Human beings have very little real power over their lives. 95% of what sets the course of theirs lives is completely outside their control. This includes the century and place they are born in, who their parents and family are, their childhood environment, physical stature, genetically hardwired talents, and most of the circumstances they find themselves in.
So, why have we given up the window seat with the incredible view?
When booking your next flight, why not grab the window so you can look out at the wonders that fly by us often unnoticed because we are so busy trying to pretend that we have it all under control?