High Altitude Sunset

Bangkok-Delhi flight: A glance around the departure area at the gate for the Delhi flight, children running around. It’s a weekend flight; plane is going to be full of kids. Okay, ready for boarding, I have a gold card (frequent flyer) and can board early. It gives me time to get things stowed away and squeeze into my seat. Not a lot of room in economy class. I’m in an aisle seat. Keep shoulders in to avoid getting hit by people with large bags. The line moves along slowly and children are on the same eye level as me, seated in my aisle seat. They look at me – first close encounter with a blue-eyed foreigner, all part of the experience, the plane has their attention

“Crew at your stations,” we’re all set to go, one boy crying – boys cry more than girls, the voice is very loud; nothing is the way I want it to be right now so leave me alone and don’t bother me, okay? But we’re soon on the runway then takeoff, engine sound increases and as plane lifts off from the ground, all the children’s voices are combined in one small exclamation: WOOOOOO-OOH!… are we flying yet? Yes! And there’s a straining of necks to look out the window to see if it’s true, ground disappearing below. Jumping out of the seat belts, a stewardess raises her voice. After that everything quietens down.

And the various services start, the food and the drinks come and go; children running up and down the aisles chased by a parent, brought back to their seats and they run off again – it’s the game, playfulness. We’re in the Hindu world here, mostly, on this plane flying to India – thinking of the Hindu concept of a world created by Gods in play. This high altitude sunset glow going on and on, and I’m sitting there looking out the window at this eternal sunset, when the stewardess leans over and pulls down the shade: Plap!  Goodbye sunset. The opportunity to fully experience flying through time and the eternal sunset is not available right now; we have to watch the movie instead, okay? Yes, so that’s all right with me, no mustn’t have a tantrum about it, I’m not a kid anymore.

Some time later we land at Delhi airport, get out of the plane and set off on the long walk to immigration, children laughing, playing and running wildly along the miles of beautiful autumn-coloured carpeting.


‘Everything is impermanent. Nothing has a “self-being” of its own apart from its time. All of us are actually part of the same current. My sense of self is composed of habitual ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and reacting—all of them being temporal processes, different forms that time takes. If the flowing current includes everyone and everything, our normal understanding of time as something external to us is misleading. Often it’s convenient to distinguish things from their time, but that is the relative truth. According to the ultimate truth, things can’t really be distinguished from their temporality, and when they are nondual then time is really not different from eternity. The eternal present always stays the same—it’s always now!—even as it always changes.’ [David  R. Loy ‘Money Sex War Karma‘]

One thought on “High Altitude Sunset

  1. Pingback: flying time | dhamma footsteps

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