Although this blog is titled "On Top of the World", it is not intended to mean being at the tallest point of this world but rather to describe my first experience of open-air flying. I and Ruta recently did para-sailing over the Atlantic waters near the Ocean City beach in New Jersey.
After much coaxing I agreed to Ruta's dream of joint para-sailing. Ruta has explored the thrills of open air adventures and all its flavors quite a few times in the past but this was my first experience. Hitherto I had never actually experienced open-air flying (apart from air travel which is not really "open-air").
Until we boarded the boat I was relaxed about this adventure. But when the captain began speed-boating to take us into the deep waters and started warning us about the risks involved, I became worried. To be honest, I get terrified with sudden drops and speed changes at high altitudes but not of high altitudes in general. This was my biggest fear moments before we flew, but to my pleasant surprise the entire experience was wonderful especially because it made me think about actually flying through the most expansive fluid on Earth.
When we took off, I momentarily closed my eyes to control my fears but immediately opened them when I realized that the ascent was as smooth as a feather floating in the air! Within a few seconds we were floating at 500 ft over the Atlantic waters. Being able to fathom the shore spread, the tiny New York skyline in the distant North, the clam waters beneath, the birds flying nearby and above all the incredible silence all around us was spectacular. I was able to experience the earth's atmosphere and its vastness in a whole new light. Until now I was “aware” about para-sailing having read, heard and watched it, but now I was “experienced”! I realized some incredible facts about the human perspective at a higher altitude:
- The acceptance of the fact that you are at a significantly higher altitude than the objects on earth. Perhaps our thinking is shaped to a large extent by how far and above we physically see the objects around us.
- For a moment I actually felt that I had conquered everything that was within my sight when we were at the top. 500 ft is not a very great altitude, but the expanse of your vision in all three dimensions at that altitude is indeed by several hundred kilometers. Perhaps human sight is the prime among all the attributes captured by our sensory organs, for the former guides our very thought process.
I was extremely jealous of the birds flying around me. I dreamt of having huge wings and flying all over the Atlantic until I was tired and then taking a dive into the waters and enjoying a backstroke swim! During this 10 minute ride in the open air I witnessed, experienced and fell in love with the world that lies above us.
A concluding remark about human spirit:
“We might be minuscule before the vastness of the universe,
But our thinking can fathom its expanse!”