Is your attention inside our out?


Among the many choices required in life (coffee or tea; boxers or briefs; White Sox or Cubs) add to the list of those which help us define ourselves (and be defined by others) is the question at the gate before departing on an airline whether one wishes to be seated on the aisle or at a window. It is, like so many others, a simple and straight-forward question. Yet, in an instant it says so very much about how we see the world.

Freud is attributed to have said that sometimes “a cigar is just a cigar” – that everything is not a metaphor is probably good advice. But, choices matter. And during these past few years, I’ve found myself at the counter confronted with the paradox. Do I take advantage of the view or prefer the relative comfort and access afforded by the aisle seat? Is there a type amongst us who eschews one for the other, or do we each, in time, enjoy the view at the expense of freedom – or loose the window to maintain quick access to the aisle?

In my own life, it seems, I too rarely enjoy the view. Days pass – then weeks, months and years – all with precious little attention to what’s happening just outside the window. My consideration is pulled to the artificial constant of life inside the plane.

Do we know where we are or do we simply board at birth (or marriage – or career) and then fail to look outside until the plane lands and the journey has ended? Is what really matters going on inside or outside? It is our interaction with those around us that is paramount even as the world passes under our feet? Yet can we live a full life only noting the world inside of our tiny steel tubes?