Friday, August 23, 2013

A New Point of View

How wonderful it is to fly... and I know that sounds strange, for one that won't even get on the cable car that goes to the top of Stone Mountain. I have to keep my feet on the ground, except for when they're not.  I've flown in planes many times, seeing the gridded land, the winding rivers, the fields of whatever it is people put in their fields, wheat or corn, or grass for the cows.  Just looking out that one window of the plane. And dreaming of flying, as I've said many times, is the best dream in the world, especially the flights where I'm zipping over lakes and forests and everything without a care.  As potent as Prozac, that is.

So it is no wonder that I'm quite addicted to Google Earth.  The globe appears and ascends toward you, or you descending toward it, until you are right over wherever you want to start.  If ever I would want to travel, it would be after wasting away an hour flying over some foreign land.  I found once, while flying over the capital of Nuuk, Greenland, a picture of a bookstore, the oldest and largest in Greenland, according to its website. Now that would be a trip, to go up to Greenland and find a bookstore (it's right next to the Cultural center and Library, which is a work of magnificent architecture in itself.

The most fascinating thing is finding places lodged inside my memory, and searching for them from the air.  Merging memory and maps, and seeing what's there now.  Take a cold night in 1986, when my grandmother insisted that we get up at 3am and drive out to the northeast corner of Oklahoma City and, at the ampitheatre across from the zoo, view Halley's Comet as it passed by Earth.  Nevermind that we had seen it quite clearly from our own front yard.  I remembered the place clearly, but had no idea where it was in OKC.  So I took to Google Earth, and rummaged around the Oklahoma City Zoo (which is much smaller from the air than it is to a kid in the 1980's) until I found the green semicircle which was no longer used as such.  It is currently the entrance to the Library owned by the Zoo.

Then there's food... my family always knows that my memories are connected to the food that I've eaten in any one spot.  But instead of showing you the locations of all the Braum's in Oklahoma, I remember this one place in Yukon, OK, called Tim's, that had a Donkey Kong video game machine, the old 1981 original made by Nintendo.  And they served the most wonderful fried cheese sticks (more like balls, they were round).  Not mozzarella, but American cheese, gooey and fall apart the instant you bit into it.  SO GOOD!!!   Anyway, it was a hole in the wall place near the Yukon Flour Plant, but I had no idea where it was, so off to Google Earth, and with my mom's help, we found it.  As soon as I hit Street View and looked at the building, I recognized it. It's now called the Fat Elvis Diner, and next time I'm in Oklahoma City, I'll stop by there.

What I really wanted to talk about was the view of the land from so far up in the heavens.  It's funny how the tallest of houses turn into mere squares and rectangles.  Cars disappear into nothing, pools become simple circles of water.  Look at the subdivisions from higher up, and everything looks like the seeds on a strawberry, just little bumps on a curvy line.  Everything we work so hard for, houses with open floor plans, or an added sun room, and when you fly near the clouds, as in a plane, or from the images of a satellite, it's all the same.  And you can hide your mansion back in the deepest forest, down a long driveway far from the road, and when looking from space, as God would, you can see it plain as day.  I can tell where each driveway goes, each trail back to the most glamorous of houses.  Privacy becomes nothing, as the crow flies.

I include this video at the end, because it's where I got the idea for the blog. Jon Mohr (of the Gaither Vocal Band) wrote the lyrics in the 1980's, prior to the advent of Google Maps.  It takes so little work to have a totally new point of view now.  I wonder how few people now actually see it.  How many kids, riding the plane for the first time, would marvel at the sights they've seen so easily on a computer screen, or if they are even looking in the first place.  Perhaps they are too busy looking at the latest Tweets to see the world becoming smaller and smaller, and the clouds floating around them.

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