On appreciation, or lack thereof
I awoke at 4 in the morning to the Imam’s warbling, intruding call to prayer and prepared myself for a morning of beauty, awe, introspection, and spirituality, for at five, I and my friends were to take a balloon ride over Cappadocia. In preparation for my time with God – god, nature, the sun, call him what you will – I maintained a reserved demeanor, dressing and conducting my morning routine in simple silent solitude, content with the prospect of a divine encounter. I boarded the van whose destination was the field of balloons along with my classmates, most of whom joined me in savoring the crisp, subtle, fragrant morning, due either to a genuine respect and appetite for serenity or to the infancy of the morning, for the sun had yet to rise. We arrived in due course, and after a short period of waiting accompanied by boyish excitement for the fire and sky, we students, a few Korean tourists, and a red-faced, beady-eyed, over-bundled Canadian woman of small build and maybe 40 years of age [boarded our balloon]. The moment feet touched the bottom of our wicker basket, cameras sprouted in everyone’s hands. Nearly every view at every moment earned a place on some devout photographer’s memory card. “The ride will last forty five minutes to an hour, depending on the wind and the weather,” the pilot announced. I hoped to every god of weather I’d ever learned about that the wind would stay calm so we – mostly I – could spend more time in the air. Bitter, frazzled, nervous, and chilly, the Canadian woman muscled her way into the conversation, offering, “45 is good. 30 is great. 20 would be fantastic.” A few tugs of our rope tethers and a couple puffs of fire into the Helium balloon and upwards we sailed into the dusty blue forever. I must admit, I stole a few photos of my own to preserve the terrific and terrifying moment and to present the scene to an ill friend unable to join us. After greedily snatching a few images from the sun-splattered dawn, I hid my camera away and set my mind free to absorb or dissolve in the view as it saw fit.