on the way to somewhere else


IMG_1778POSTCARD #105: Delhi airport: “The flight to Bangkok is delayed due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft…” The announcement comes just as the Thai plane is arriving at Gate 8. I watch it from the window and take a photo… I’ll be getting on the same plane that just got here; same plane flying forwards and back most of its working life – how do I feel about this? Maintenance crews service the machinery at Bangkok and Delhi, the engines are always stationary – it’s the world that moves.

I need to charge my phone. Look for an empty seat next to an electric socket, plug in and get the cable organized. I don’t have to decide where to go or what to do now; I’ll be here for as long as it takes to charge the battery… tiny electron molecules zizzling around in a Nano world. I am not actively engaged in the process, more like the one who decides if this is going to happen or not. Passively involved in an activity the building provides the facilities for. It’s all taken out of my hands… sit quietly, everything is happening by itself.

Eyes closed, watch the in breath/outbreath, meditation in a seat in the Departures Hall. People will think I’m sleeping – if they notice me… busy with devices that convince us we are who we think we are. Attached to a sense of ‘me’ that disincludes all other evidence. The ‘me’ that I believe in depends on me thinking it… otherwise it’s not there. This is how it is at this point in time and space, where and when, and now and then.

It’s an emptiness, but no real silence here at the airport, a kind of buzz and static from miles of carpeting, fragments of conversations in a language I don’t understand – conceptualization is switched off, listening to the streams and rivers of curious sound. I become the listening; comfortably disconnected with things in this high-ceilinged place; mind/body organism focused in an environment where people are constantly and always just passing through, on the way to somewhere else. Trying to picture Thich Nhat Hanh walking quietly through a war zone – metta and mindfulness – everybody stops firing to let him pass…

“Life is so short, we should all move more slowly” [Thich Nhat Hanh (source)]

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23 thoughts on “on the way to somewhere else

  1. Loved this. Must admit to a certain amount of envy of your detachment. I am just learning and coming from a very emotional culture (Sicilian) the place you have achieved after years of practice is one I aspire to but may never reach in this lifetime. I know this but am giving it my all anyhow. Your posts are a constant source of inspiration. And enjoyment.

    • Thanks Ellen, maybe I arrived at the detachment by necessity. Living in other people’s countries for more than 30 years – that’s one thing. I know about emotions; they’re not ‘mine’, they’re everybody’s, I can choose to be detached or attached… an amazing diversity of forms, exotic tropical fish swimming in an ocean. We all arrive at the place of Knowing from different routes. It may be as simple as reflecting on the fact we Know it’s there, not hopelessly lost in the illusion. The Path itself is the goal…

  2. Great post, and glad you mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh. Upon first learning of his love among the hate and killing i was changed forever…I hope he is healing and will remain with us but as he would teach, physical death is natural and is not the death of the true value of a person.

    • Thanks for your reference to Thich Nhat Hanh, it’s important that the world knows he is probably near the end of his life. The sad truth is that the way of peace is overlooked. Most people are engaged with consumerism. It’s a kind of brainwashing. We don’t see that suffering is caused by the desire to have things – or not have things (hate and killing) and we consume more and more, hoping to find the solution – don’t see there’s a way out from all this complexity; the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the true value of a person…

      • i searced for news of TNH’s health and it was odd that the main media outlets had not reported it. and yet they report continually about Taylor swifts clothing et al…what is that about??? This man has touched more lives and brought more value to the planet than almost anyone but not important enough to be reported when in a health crisis? And yes, on the noble eightfold path! The way is to know little by little it will all change…no giant corporations enslaving workers…they (fast food workers) are already seeing it is wrong…it can only continue–when that many people are de-humanized it just can’t continue.

      • It’s possible that, in fact, many people have heard of TNH and understand something about who he is – but that’s as far as it goes. The media (giant corporations) controls everything, creates the trends, marketing, etc., “greed, hatred, delusion”. Could be that some time in the future, people will look back on this; the media will get hold of it and it’ll be something like: TNH was in this world ‘before his time’ – there have been others in history like that, only recognised after they’ve gone. The question is, though, where’ll the world be by then? Even so, there are these small seeds that he planted in his lifetime and ‘little by little’, as you’re saying here, people will start to know it’s possible to change…

  3. Another example of your spectacular writing skill. I love imagining you meditating in an airport. Good advice for us all. And imagining Thich Nhat Hanh walking through a war zone with such peace the firing stops. Beautiful. His closing quote you’ve chosen has me feeling truly calm and introspective this morning. Thank you.

    • Thanks Gina. I like to think there’ll come a time when simple meditation is accepted by society and quiet places will be provided at airports similar to the Moslem Prayer rooms. Thich Nhat Hanh is one who has moved the world closer to that kind of acceptance…

  4. “Trying to picture Thich Nhat Hanh walking quietly through a war zone – metta and mindfulness – everybody stops firing to let him pass…”

    Lovely image! Nice metaphor.

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