“Far Away” revisited.

“There’s no such place as far away.” Richard Bach, the “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” guy wrote that, and my parents sent the booklet to me for Christmas, my first Christmas oh-so-far away. They were in Italy–my father an Air Force officer–and I was on Okinawa in the South China Sea at the far side of the globe, also an Air Force officer and pilot. And let me tell you: Mr. Bach notwithstanding, there most certainly is “far away.”

I see it every work day, and I’m just one guy, one journeyman airline pilot. But let me share with you what all aircrew members know, because we’re your silent partners in “far away,” wherever and whenever you go. It’s mostly good, considering those who go because they want to, because they’ve waited so long and now the big trip’s here. I notice the wedding dress in the garment bag hung carefully in the forward closet. I root for you on your big day, am proud of the flight attendants who send you off with something special, because they care.

I root for the old couple–I’ll push your wheelchair, have pushed it for you–bravely going where they can without a thought about “next year,” much less tomorrow, just courageously embarking on their journey of the precious “now” despite limitations life and age have foisted on them.

We see the reality, the distance of “far away” in you when you’re going where you will go but more poignantly, in the eyes of those who must go: the children, like a nomad flock, of divorce. The “unaccompanied minors” as they’re tagged, suspended between divorced parents on holidays and vacations. We see it in the child’s eyes, knowing there’s a loved one to leave, a loved one to rejoin. I’ve shared the tears of a mom, swearing with all my heart that it would be okay, that I would call from the destination and let her know her son was all right, safe with the other parent he also misses.

We’ve seen it with the thousands of silently dedicated young troops we carry too far away. I’ve promised them each, “finish your duty here and I will gladly bring you home.”

And we do. Home to families, back from far away,

whatever it takes, a solemn promise from your silent partner in far away, we will bring you home.

Getting there is what matters, and we see the people on both ends: those you leave, and those you meet. Whether you land at home or far away, I see that in your faces one by one as you deplane. And I really look hard as I say thank-you and good-bye, because that’s what I keep in mind each and every time I take-off, fly and land the jet, following the exact procedure, using all of my years of experience, perfectly every time, night and day, here, there–everywhere.

And that’s the main reason I do and to me, near or far–it’s all the same. Because the secret of “far away” is this: it only seems so, it only matters, because there is a home to go back to. That’s a good thing.

Yes, we are the agent of faraway, but also the angel of home. When you’re ready, we will bring you home. That, without fail, I promise you.


In case you ever wondered: yes, there is such a thing. Chocolate’s rare, but the best.


11 Responses to ““Far Away” revisited.”

  1. This was beautiful.

  2. Haunting. Beautiful. I’m reposting the link everywhere.

  3. Been to the four corners including Futenma on Okinawa. You hit the nail on the head re: far away.

    • I lived near Futenma in Onishi Heights Terrace. Went to the Futenma base theater rather than the one on Kadena because the Air Force was hard-over about adult beverages in the theater. On the Marine base, as soon as the lights went down you could hear pop-tops everywhere. Thanks for reading and Semper Fi.

  4. […] this article: "Far Away" revisited. Aviation […]

  5. Thank you so much for this beautiful post and for doing your job so well. I try to return every pilot’s smile and greeting with my own smile, even if I’m tired and jetlagged. I understand you are, too, and you don’t get to sleep on the flight! Thank you again.

  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris_Manno: Where exactly is “far away:” http://wp.me/pMIKO-9j

  7. Dennis Magnusson Says:

    What a poignant revelation! It’s beyond a blog, article, story or whatever; effectively illustrated with wonderful, evocative photography.

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