I don’t think you are supposed to find wonder in a tunnel connecting two terminals in the Detroit airport, but I did. I was reminded of my sense of wonder, and how far I had wandered away from it.
When my kids were going through their firsts, I reveled alongside them: the first snowflake to touch their face, the first worm that wriggled in their tiny palms. I knew enough to put them outside and tell them to look up and stick out their tongues, and I knew enough to put the worm in their hand, but then they took over the teaching role. The astonished look, the delighted surprise followed by a glowing smile. They made me remember the sheer awe, the sheer sense of possibilities . . . the incredible wonder. I saw it in their eyes and it made me ache to feel it too.
I seemed to be quite alone in my airport discovery, because everyone else was busy getting somewhere, but I was suddenly unconcerned with the destination ahead of me. Bodies bustled past me, and I was transfixed — awed.
The tunnel was a symphony of lights and sounds, spa-fusion alien-beats with an orchestra of nature’s influences. Soothing and stirring at the same time. I stopped. I watched. I smiled. I took out my camera. Why wasn’t anyone else stopping?
Placed in a gallery, or as a standalone attraction, people would be awed by it, inspired by it, fed by it, but in the airport, for so many it was just a tunnel, with lights, and music and conveyer belts to speed you past it all.
I was transfixed, and recalled that just hours before, this sight had been described to me as a psychedelic fallopian tube. Through shades of blues, purples, sea-like shades of teal, sunsets of orange and lavender, I reveled in nature’s combinations of unlikely colours. One man stopped and took one photograph rather sheepishly and raced on. I felt like I’d given him permission.
I was joyous with the realization that I was one of the few getting it.
There were no benches, so I sat on the cold stone floor to drink it in along with decent airport sushi. The sequence never seemed to repeat. I favoured the blues that gave way to a series of greens and whites, then on to a sunrise of red, pinks and violets. I loved the darkness. I tried to capture the moment at the keyboard of my laptop to hold on to it.
This was definitely the beginning of my journey: a journey of self-discovery, which is never as simple as getting to a destination. Suddenly the lights and music changed to a rainstorm, mild thunder, claps of light and colour, almost climaxing with sweet daylight tones, but followed by the sound of a whale in the distance.
Another man slowed down to connect with me on this discovery, smiled and was gone. I’m glad my stillness has helped some to slow down.
Tropical colours now, swinging wildly across the walls and ceiling like the dance of the rainforest. The moment is not lost on me. A Latin vibe takes on light airy yellows and greens.
The skies erupt in colours again; I’m on a sensory roller coaster.
How many of these tunnels in life had I not noticed? I don’t want to miss this kind of magic — I don’t want my face to look like many around me — unaware, distant, focused on the destination, oblivious to the journey — distracted, in a hurry. I realize how desperately I needed to slow down.
I can’t wipe the silly grin off my face, I am giggling quietly along with the music and the lights. This is candy for the ears, eyes and spirit — like colourful cotton candy with pop rocks mixed in.
I am alive. I am full of wonder. This is wonderful.
The genie is out of the bottle and won’t go back in. I will hold on to this moment for as long as possible until I can jump to the next one like stepping stones across a stream.
My journey is far from over. My mind has been opened . . . by a tunnel in an airport! I want to cry for the joy of it — the wonder of it. I’m beginning to remember what that first snowflake on my tongue felt like.
On the trip home from my destination, I find myself looking forward to the journey as well. I spend time in the tunnel again, to find those to thank. I’d like to thank Fox Fire Glass, Mills/James Productions, and everyone that helped to dream up and fund the project and make it a reality.
Regardless of my future destinations, I’ll always have the tunnel in the Detroit Airport to remind me that if your eyes and spirit are open, you can find wonder in the most unexpected places, including in yourself.
Not all those that wander are lost, but those that don’t wonder, surely are.