POSTCARD#101: Bangkok Suwannabhume Airport: Looking out from the interior of this coffee shop into another interior; the glittering glass-paneled B concourse, and through that glass window to what’s out there; blue sky, a concrete horizon and planes taking off. I am contained in a transparent interior, inside a larger interior, contained in a reality construct, the steel and glass of this moment. It’s the same place I was in last time, and the time before that (the ‘Mango Tree’ coffee shop, near gates B1-B6, if you’re ever in this neck of the woods). We started coming here a year ago and Jiab comes when she’s travelling on her own… sends me phone-pics of fruity drinks and ice creams she consumes after the photo is taken. This is my departure lounge; the Delhi flight leaves from this coffee shop, rather than gate C5, which is simply the entrance to the plane. A kind of applied personification in an airport vastness, anonymity and incidental eye contact with a few individuals. I see their birth, their death, their merging in a sea of people all on the way to/from somewhere else… going or coming. We’re all just passing through.
Long columns of us waiting to be X-rayed, instructed and directed by officials guiding us into and out of security portals like water passes through rocks and stones in a continuous flowing stream. No resistance to it… the coldness of regulations; a physical sensation in a body that’s somehow become transparent. I notice how the energy feels rather than how I can ‘be’ negatively energized by it. Everything is so much not what we think it is, there can’t be any assumptions; just letting it take place and being okay about it is enough. Disengage from thinking it should be something other than what it is, and everything that’s currently bothering me about that disappears for a moment – long enough to be able to see it’s possible to let go of all the shoulds and shouldn’ts completely… the peace that’s in that.
Surveillance cameras protrude into the space I’m in and suck out all data, send it to a room containing video screens, dark and gloomy, where security people with bulged-out eyes scan the images of the crowd, zoom-in, zoom-out. I feel I’m being looked at, studied… I’ve just been jostled slightly, pockets rifled. I can’t see them but I know they’re there. This whole thing is a performance, there’s a sudden urge to do a song-and-dance act. Maybe it’s a more serious drama production; Japanese Kuroko stagehands, dressed in black, appear on stage with the actors and rearrange the scene as the play is going on. They’re there for everyone to see but become invisible. The mystery of how we can be unaware of things in plain sight – mesmerized by politicians, illusionists’ sleight-of-hand; everybody acting out the story of their lives without questioning it, improvised dialogue according to the karma of causes and conditions.
Coming near to the end… the last camera, passport stamp, thump! And I’m suddenly through the barrier, blinded by the lights of the glitzy duty-free, gold Rolexes, impossible jewelry and stumbling towards my place in the coffee shop. Waiting for the flight to be called, the great leap up into the sky. A heightened feeling, a quickening, I know all this is happening – mindful alertness, awareness creates an awareness, aware that it is aware…
“The vastness created these human circuitries in order to have an experience of itself out of itself that it couldn’t have without them.” [Suzanne Segal, Collision with the Infinite]
‘… awareness creates an awareness, aware that it is aware’ – reference: Is Awareness Aware Of Itself?
Interesting and enlightening thoughts for me to ponder. I seem to be living many days outside myself.
Things are a bit like that here too… kinda swept away by it all. No time to hold on to the little self. The narrative seems to arise in ‘episodes’ that don’t immediately fit together.
Read your post and had a flash-back of a couple of weeks ago at Stansted airport when I was en-route back to France. Many things hit me, particularly the pace of life, the crowds, the cost of a panini (£7.00) eeeeek! I didn’t buy one. Getting patted down AGAIN when I came through security (obviously look suspicious!), and that general feeling of being part of a hub where everyone is waiting to head off into some other part of the world. Airports are kind of strange worlds.
Thanks Jude, I know what you mean. It’s difficult not to feel taken advantage of when you’re asked for £7.00 for a panini. It’s the whole impersonal thing about thousands of people going somewhere far away, and airport services seem to think ok so it doesn’t matter… if it’s easyjet, there’s a definite sense of cattle herding, I noticed. So it’s in this context we try to find our inner peace, not making a ‘thing’ out of it, in the mind. Not easy – maybe if you do it often enough it gets easier…
I find in situations like airports I become an observer, I sit, I watch, and kind of ‘be’ with the flow. Maybe I’m getting better at just ‘being’, whatever the situation. I was going to say maybe age has a lot to do with it, but it also comes from having become aware of how important it is to be mindful. I have to keep working on it. 🙂
I like the idea of the observer sitting and watching the flow, just letting it all pass through, nothing ‘held’. Age is part of it too, really; experience in maintaining a quiet presence, and if you’re a frequent flyer there’s an opportunity to notice reactions and refine this kind of mindfulness…
Loved this and hearing lots about awareness of awareness, according to Mooji, a high state that goes beyond “Being”… Beautiful images, both verbal and photographic. The airport sounds more civilized than here in New York City. P.S. I was just asking my husband yesterday why I picture so many people I see in the street and on buses or subways on their deathbeds in the future. Besides having a grim cast of mind, there is some sort of preoccupation with death, although not my own. Losing people. Attachment. P.P.S. Will you be flying back to see M? Miss hearing about her.
Thanks Ellen, a small epiphany reading your quote: ‘a high state that goes beyond being’, it’s somehow knowing there’s distance between ‘being’ and ‘awareness’ – enough to see what ‘being’ is. And I can understand what you mean by seeing death in the faces of the great multitude in the city, it’s to do with the silence of the relationship, I think; the simple truth that after you pass them in the street you’ll never ever see them again. On a brighter note, I’ll be with M again in 3 weeks – last I heard she’d started night classes in electric guitar…
Liked your reasoning for seeing death in strangers. Glad you had a small epiphany from Mooji’s quote. Retreat with him just finished but I am too full to write. And there are Bajans this afternoon. Must stare at the walls awhile and do some physical activity before things settle down enough to write. It was quite fantastic.
I was in this airport a few months ago… I love being in airports… not just for the excitement of travel, but for the experience of being so face to face with the transient and illusory nature of everything… your post captures all that so well.
Thanks Jeff, yes I have the same feeling and in this airport particularly. It looks like a canvas roof in sections, a nomadic tent structure… everything is temporary. Thanks too for taking such care, I fixed the typo and deleted the second comment.