The other day I was flying back from Ithaca. The weather had been bad; for a while I didn't know if the plane would take off. When it finally did, I gave a sigh of relief, opened my book (like most people, I carry one when traveling) and started to read. About half an hour later, the sun was in my eyes, bothering me. I was about to pull down the window covering when I happened to look out.
The scene was literally breathtaking. I was eye-level with a sun that was setting blood-orange over a bank of pristine white cotton-wool balls that stretched unbroken beneath us. It struck me that I was hurtling through the air in a metal cylinder that weighed over 300,000 pounds. If someone had told this to our ancestors two hundred years ago, would they have even believed it possible? And yet when I looked around me, every passenger was oblivious of the amazing situation we were in --just as I myself had been a few minutes ago. How quickly we get used to things. How quickly we take them for granted.
I gazed for a while, then turned back to my book. Here was another wonder--black squiggles on a page that could make pictures blossom inside our head, that could make us laugh or weep--or inspire us to transform our lives. I thought of my favorite book-related quotation (anyone recognize the author?):
"A book should serve as the ax for the frozen sea within us."
I hope my books--at least one of them--can do that--for at least one reader.