POSTCARD #159: Bangkok/New Delhi flight: My frequent flyer card gets me an upgrade thus I carry my pain with mindfulness and step behind the curtain folds where the grass is always greener. Glasses of champage on silvered trays among the apple juices and orange juices – I don’t indulge, impossible, these days of heavy-duty neural pain killers. Look out at the sky, strange flesh-coloured clouds above a dark horizon I don’t recognize. It could be a different planet. Sounds so shrill and pointy-ended I have to wear earplugs squashed into the contours of the auditory passage and pressed in by fingertips. Members of the public seem alien, sentient beings but complex individuals; somehow I can’t identify with them; I just never noticed how weird things were before…
There was the transformation, something else existed before I found I was in a low gravity world, a pharmaceutical weightlessness that allows me from time to time to contemplate the intrusive pain growing inside me like a tree, branches and twiglets with buds opening; it’s there but I can’t feel it – there was a time when I didn’t have this condition… hard to believe. Sensory impingement, even through dark glasses, light hurts as the last of the sun’s rays enter cabin windows, sweep around the interior in the steep ascent of the aircraft and the course setting for Northwest.
Every day and each circumstance is an opportunity for acceptance. A child is crying, front-left. I’m in an aisle seat, the sound piercing through insulation of the meds like a medical probe penetrating internal organs, deeper and deeper. I try tilting my head in small increments to alter the directional frequency of received sound but it’s not working – inconsolable. Fighting against it creates a narrative, “resistance is futile, you will be assimilated,” trying to open to the experience, extending, retracting… then the hum of the aircraft engine sends the child to sleep.
Dinner served and earplugs removed, I’m watching my video (Tomorrowland), good quality earphones and about three of a total four hours flying time remaining – then it happens. In the glimmer of video screens and forever trays of drinks offered by slim shadows of airline staff, a fairly large group of people block the passageway on my left. They’re flying together, look like the same family, all are tall have large physiques, bearded men, women wide at the bottom end, and they’re ordering items from duty-free with handfuls of US currency sprouting like leaves on a tree with many limbs. They can’t count out the amounts correctly because it’s too dark. I feel my irritation flare up in all the disorder and stewardesses’ strobe-like torch flashings. Then a mistake in the change, or something goes wrong, so all the items that were purchased and placed in overhead lockers have to be taken out and checked again.
I’m holding an unbelievable pain/stress crisis from exploding. The squeezing-past-each-other in crowded aisle means I get pushed by large rear-ends of women in custom-made denim jeans who feel they’re small and invisible. Then the little girl starts to cry again and I see the cute child, mouth a round black hole, arms and legs extended, a miniature version of the FAT PEOPLE who are her immediate family. The wail of distress breaks the sound barrier; child is carried up and down the aisle by different uncles, aunties, then a very harrassed mommy, upper body kinda jogging up and down the aisle gets the child to sleep. Every time mommy turns around I receive a buttock shove in the head. The silent pressure that’s inside my head, asylum-straight-jacketed, cannot be contained anymore… it goes, restraints bursts wide open, and the relief is huge… large outbreath. How did I do that? Time stretches out of shape, vertigo, where are we now? Good question, flying at 600 mph. Pressure returns, I attempt to recreate the scene and do it again – the mind forgets, it goes on and things settle down towards the end. We arrive in Delhi, nice landing and a few minutes early.
‘Surrender is the most difficult thing in the world while you are doing it and the easiest when it is done.’ [Bhai Sahib]