The Power of Beauty Found

I remember the snow. I wasn't brought up on snow back in the deserts of Las Vegas, but in Boston they had a lot of it. I remember it sitting in the giant push-back tractor trailer with a Boeing 757 twenty feet in front of me. I was cocooned in a snow globe as the men sprayed the wings with de-icer which, with the help of the emptying sky, placed me inside of a little fluffy cloud, as I simply sat back and waited in awesome bliss.

Few people, I believe, have had the opportunity to experience such a world of white as I did during those days. Some things make you forget life back on earth. It spurred ethereal notions, made me elated there at Logan International Airport, not far from the place where Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about being a transparent eyeball. I think it was in the silence, as well, as I watched the snow fall, the de-icer’s exploding mists placing me into another realm.

Flight is perhaps one of the greatest proofs of the existence of man’s spirituality, the pursuit of which is often neglected in favor of feeding and secure habitation. A solitary, spiritual experience such as mine in the faux cloud, the result of seeing great beauty, then lives in memory. My snowy cocoon brought me in touch with meaning through associations: cloud and heaven, the end of physical trouble through the fairy tale idea of perpetual floating, the momentary ending of all travail.

The result of placing oneself in such a situation of great and unexpected beauty is that the memory lifts you, helps you then transcend your day to day, and sort of places you in a symbolic cloud forever. A few minutes of elation, a few minutes of being a transparent eyeball, presents the inductee to true spirituality with a wealth of energy to be used for future days.

Of course, we all have to come back down to the ground. The plane was pushed and safely dispatched into the soft, white, moving sky. The cold, the freezing, was then re-experienced by the parking of the tractor, the jumping down from the icy sides, your buttressing against the cold as you run into the torn-couch and staid-chair reality of the airline break room again, where cards are played, laughter provoked almost in a competitive way. Once again, you are on your toes. You enter the realm of the real world, although the soft white world recently abandoned was secretly much truer. You don’t have the words to tell anyone what you just went through. The spirituality again. The beauty, again.

And you are bolstered so you smile and you talk and you are stronger for those moments until the world again encroaches upon you and your worry lines appear between your eyes and the transparent eyeball is nowhere to be found. You know you must soon be fed again by beauty and you will find a way.

More snows come through the winter. More planes depart. One plane a minute is what they say about Logan International, a good statistic that makes you feel safe flying. A tarmac is a pretty rough place. You have to constantly be on the alert. Everybody is in uniform and no guff is taken in regard to movement or actions. Safety is key and most everybody is a tough guy about staying safe. It’s a matter of life and death. But what many people don’t talk about when they describe the nitty and the gritty of serious places is that beauty is found in the cracks. The snowy white world of the de-icing is one such crack. Another is a quick stop at the water’s edge at night to stare out at the Boston skyline.

More spiritual imagination infiltrates you through the transmission of the colored light sparkles of the night landscape. Cosmopolitan beauty is a notion of the beauty inside of people translated into outer, man-made form. Of course, in our overalls we weren’t really a part of that scene, but by allowing ourselves those moments of bliss, stolen moments mostly, we became as beautiful in our imaginations as these night-time people were in their fashions and the body language displayed to one another. They sat, wine glasses in their hands, within the structural embodiments imagined by others who also appreciated the power of beauty, those who designed the buildings and the rooms, placed the candles where they may, and chose the music that would best allow one person to see and feel the beauty in another.

It is this idea of human love that the solitary bayside night-watch gives you as you sit there on the plastic seat of your cargo puller. The long shining arms of love given to the eye is beautiful. Even if you don’t have it in your life, its pull is undeniable, and it is through beauty that we imagine it. It is the gift that imagination gives us, the feeling of love even though we may yet be alone in our lives. We experience love anyway. Spirituality is love given to us through beauty. Simple as that.

I finally moved away from Boston to go to school in California. I traded the snow for the sea. It’s hard to say which is the better bet as far as the touch of spirituality is concerned. A lot of people would say that the sea is generally the better choice if you want to experience the higher feelings for a longer amount of time, but spirituality and its feeling of love is not about quantity. It is about moments and being open enough to experience them. Although I worked in a gas-smelly land of pavement, I found the beauty where it approached me and, perhaps starving in some way, I was molded by it, was infiltrated, was made to be a transparent eyeball. And like another great New England poet once said, that has made all the difference.


Fargo Kantrowitz worked as a ramp agent for America West Airlines in Las Vegas and in Boston. In 1998 he won first place for short story writing at the 10th Annual Individual Artists Award of Santa Barbara County. He is the author of the novel Babybirds.

Categories: Airports, Airplanes

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