I remember the excitement I felt as I walked to the gate for my first ever flight, as a young child. I fastened my seat belt, and after what seemed like an eternity, the plane taxied down the runway and took off. I watched as the ground receded, simultaneously terrified and exhilarated, as only a child can be. I’d been on roller coasters and Ferris wheels, but this was truly awesome! Then we entered the clouds, and it was like being in a huge, white cotton ball.

The plane continued to rise, and we emerged from the clouds. From my window, I could see the most vivid blue sky imaginable and a brilliant sun. Until that day, when I’d looked up from the ground and seen clouds, I’d assumed they extended all the way to outer space. It never occurred to me that above them, the blue sky and sunlight reappeared! Wow, I thought to myself. It’s always a sunny day if you go high enough! I’m sure I was too young to know how to spell the word “epiphany,” but that was what that moment was. Yes, things may look gray and dreary down on the ground, but directly above you—if you could look far enough—the darkness turns to light. It’s there, just beyond the clouds.

The spiritual message was clear, even for a child: Humans can only see so far, but if we had the ability to view everything through G‑d’s eyes, we’d see the “sunshine,” the goodness, in all He created. This concept is so important that the Torah‘s very first chapter teaches it. G‑d created the entire universe in six days. Each day of Creation is described, detail by detail. He created light, and He deemed it “good.” He separated the land from the sea and deemed it “good.” He brought forth plant life and deemed it “good.” And the sun, moon and stars were created and deemed “good.” So were fish and land animals. He finished by creating humans and “saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Included in G‑d’s creations were things we don’t ordinarily think of as good. Ferocious beasts. Poisonous snakes. Natural disasters. And yet, G‑d deemed everything “good.” The Talmud (Berachot 54a) addresses this counterintuitive concept: “A person is obligated to bless G‑d for the bad just as he blesses G‑d for the good … whatever measure He metes out to you, whether it be good or bad, you are to thank Him.” Why? Because it’s always a sunny day if you go high enough. From G‑d’s view, everything is good.

Decades later, on another flight, I had a different experience. This time, when we pierced the clouds, the sun shone directly at my eyes, and I was blinded by the brightness. At that moment, I had another epiphany: Whether it’s very dark, or very bright, the effect is the same. You can’t see clearly. Both darkness and bright light can blind us to what’s right in front of us. Sometimes, we’re stuck on the ground in the gloom, and we can’t see the sunny sky above our heads on the other side of the clouds. And sometimes, life is going well for us, and we’re sailing above the clouds, but we’re so blinded by the sun that we fail to enjoy and appreciate our good fortune. In either case, we’re unable to see clearly.

The Talmud (Brachot 54a) lists many examples of this. We say blessings upon seeing “earthquakes, thunder, winds or lightning”—all natural phenomena that cause great damage. And we also say blessings upon seeing “mountains, hills, seas, rivers or deserts”—natural phenomena whose power and beauty we might otherwise overlook or take for granted.

These two flights—one as a young child and one as an adult—gave me lasting mental images to help grasp these two spiritual concepts. When I burst through the clouds on that first flight, I understood that no matter how gloomy things may seem, blue skies and sunshine wait on the other side. The clouds may obscure that sometimes, but they’re there. And on that later flight, I understood that it’s just as easy to miss the good times in life—to let all that sunshine blind you to the blessings in your life.