POSTCARD 142: Delhi-Bangkok flight: We are reading the newspaper, sharing parts of the Bangkok Post. Jiab also has the Thai newspaper and other pages spread over the seats and folded into the magazine pocket. Comfortable environment; the aircraft furniture, cushions, colourful papers and books. It’s a pleasing, at-home feeling; this is our space – looks like a hotel room, not an aircraft. There’s the hmmmm sound of the engines and shhhhh of the air, not unpleasant. Soft pale daylight coming in through the window, and out there, the blue sky above the clouds stretching on and on, curvature of the planet… it all seems so strangely still.
Stewardesses come with the drinks trolley, five or ten minutes go by and the sky, the horizon of clouds remain the same. It feels like the aircraft is stationary, suspended in space, no landmarks, no indicators of time, no beginning and no end. If I say there is a beginning, I create linear time. Encapsulated inside this aircraft there’s the duration of time – there was a beginning (we got on this plane at Delhi), and there will be an end (we get off the plane at Bangkok). But outside the cabin window there’s only the vast present time – the continuing ‘now’ phenomenon enfolding and unfolding, transforming from the past into future in one continuous surging-through movement that cannot be explained. What a strange mystery it is; future time slides into present time, tomorrow becomes today, ‘now’ falls back into yesterday… something ‘remembered’ because it’s gone now.
Mind creates a structure to explain time, otherwise how could we understand the enigma of how the past has ‘gone’ and the future has not arrived yet? Hovering on the brink of the smallest pause before it gets here; the empty space of not-knowing what it is, and held like this for an instant. We are time itself – how to understand that? It’s as if I were standing at the bow of a small sailing boat floating with the current flow, the sense of moving forwards but no shoreline, nothing to judge which direction the boat is going in, or the distance from (or to) something or anything – nothing to say where we’re going or where we are.
I glance down the aisle at my fellow passengers; Japanese staff based in India, they’ll transit at Bangkok and go on to Tokyo. Wealthy Indian tourists heading for a shopping experience in Bangkok… are they aware we’re presently suspended in timelessness? Probably choosing to not think about it – never arriving, always on the way to get ‘there’ (but where are we going?). Mostly choosing to focus on whatever is happening ‘now’, and creating a story about that. Focus on my presence here in a seat contoured to fit the human body, tight squeeze, enough space for legs and knees with an inch of space from the seat in front – beyond that I can see into the business class section… always the grass is greener. I am one of perhaps 300 passengers receiving services from the staff; a baby bird, beak wide open, help… feed me, please.
Before the beginning there were no beginnings or endings; there was only the eternal Always, which is still there – and always shall be. There was only an awareness of unflawed oneness, and this oneness was so complete, so awe-striking and unlimited in its joyous extension that it would be impossible for anything to be aware of something else that was not Itself.” [Disappearance of the Universe page 122]