POSTCARD #205: DELHI CHIANG MAI FLIGHT: Hop, skip, jump and I’m back in Thailand; arrival on the Delhi flight; four hours flying time and transit at Bangkok for the Chiang Mai flight, one hour flying time. It’s only been two weeks since I was last here, the memory I have of it replaced by what it is now as if it were just a moment ago. I step into present time with a sweeping recognition of everything in the surroundings of the straight route taken in the direction of Transit Desk East – perspective effect down the very long passageway leading to a vanishing point. Boarding time for the Chiang Mai flight 30 mins from now. Speed walking along the same moving walkway I walked along only two weeks ago. Same high frequency sound piercing and resonating in my head. Same flashing red light: “end of the walkway”, as we change from one walkway to the next.
Same rush to get there; swept along in the urgency of the crowd and caught up in thinking it’s necessary to jump ahead of perceived obstructions in the mind; typically the group tours from Southern China, huddled together, first time away from home, the young and the old holding on to each other and blocking the passageway leading to the transit desk. I hear an official voice calling out in Chinese while I’m experiencing push-and-shove collisions with small rucksacks, elbows and full body contact with these small beings from a different planet; unfamiliar toothpaste smells.
I feel like I’m in someone else’s life; I’ve stepped out of my own life and into someone else’s, having to squeeze through the gaps in the crush, thrust, force, push and stretch-through long-arm reach to the desk – passport held in fingertips… and the Thai ground-staff member takes it just before the Chinese group leader pushes in front of me and slaps down two handfuls of passports. How lucky is that! The ground-staff member standing on a box above eye level facing the crowd, dressed in Chinese costume and is speaking Chinese at extraordinary high volume, splitting my headache in pieces. Necessary, to help the surging crowd, who are having difficulty filling in their landing form, and she’s holding up a sample; the blue form, and pointing to it so the people in the back can see and know what to look for.
She stops and looks down at me, the odd man out, sits down, opens my passport, sees the landing form is complete and then a very strange thing happens: elbows on the table, she lowers her head and starts massaging her long ear lobes between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. I simply don’t recognize this gesture; the first time I’ve ever seen it. Then I know what it is; I see the tiny hole puncture in one stretched out earlobe as the finger/thumb combination wriggles the soft worm-like ear appendage flesh piece around and a small grimace as she looks at me with one eye, asking to confirm my name, gives me the in-transit passenger C.I.Q status sticker. Below on the desk before her are the heavy Chinese earrings that go with the costume.
I’m through and into the single lane then the two yellow footprints on the floor where I have to stand and look at the camera, click. Passport pages turning then thump and just in time, Chiang Mai flight boarding now. I get through to the head of the queue and show my 4 years out-of-date gold card which still works. I don’t want to ask them about validity… back into a flying machine, find my seat and deep breathing exercise to slow down the fast forward momentum of the mind playing out the stories, and fading away.
It’s good to have an end to journey toward;
but it’s the journey that matters, in the end.
[Ursula K. Le Guin]
Amazing you can do so much despite the head pain. Yesterday, a migraine day, i acted in a very non- Buddhist way I am totally ashamed of, I lost my temper. My husband is retiring because his job was literally killing him. He loved most of his poor, mentally ill clients but the administration work the therapists criminally. That’s why he is retiring. He wanted to work till 70 but he couldn’t. And in his last week he got sick yet again and today his group therapy patients were giving him a pizza party which he sponsored because we are talking poverty and homelessness here. So yesterday his supervisor was pressuring him when he calledbin sick to come in to work today. And I lost it. I wanted to throw something or break something. Today he was very sick. I was calmer but in tears. I don’t want to lose him. He doesn’t need more pressure. Some supervisorsay and higher ups are criminal. How does a Buddhist deal with this Italian temper of mine? I will listen to Mooji tonight. And pray. Attachment is the problem. How to love without attachment? How do you stay calm despite the pounding in your head? Especially when problems arise on top of the very bad pain?
It might sound like I ‘do so much despite head pain’ but I don’t actually do a lot, just sit on the aircraft – and I don’t ever write in these posts about how bad I feel about the pain because readers don’t need to read that kind of thing. I do write about ‘pain’ if there’s a particular quality worthy of description like something caused by sharp resonating sound frequencies maybe. Usually these short pieces are written after the pain or the situation happened in past time, made from notes taken then or remembered from the reflection in present time. Unlike migraine there’s no nausea, so I have an easier time of it than you perhaps. I sympathise with the extremes you have to endure.
And yes, I feel bad about the crazy things I’ve done in anger after the event, and puzzled, disorientated; how did that happen? But it gets forgotten about, life goes on, no harm done. If I feel ashamed it’s mostly about the conditioned sense of inherited guilt characteristic of Christian schooling long ago. Here in Thailand there is no prolonged guilt and: ‘thou art a bad person’ etc., doesn’t exist in their thinking. There’s shame, then there’s trying to get it right next time. And yes, the balance tips more for some than it does for others. No worries.
It’s sad to hear how your H is exploited by the powers-that-be and he’s so busy taking care of the people he’s there to help he doesn’t have interest nor the sense to see it’s affecting his health. It’ll come right in the end, but sounds to me like he’ll be unhappy in retirement unless he can immerse himself in work of a similar kind.
How does a Buddhist deal with anger? When the balance goes, the whole world tips over. Then it rights itself. Attachment is the problem. How to love without attachment? Try not to possess – there is no ‘me’ that owns things. How do you stay calm despite the pounding in your head? It’s not possible to stay calm under these circumstances, focus on the breath and the very bad pain you have is the number one priority. Attend to that as if it were a physical injury that has drawn blood. Ne worry pas…
Thank you for your compassion and your answers to my little questions. I think you have it much worse with pain all the time. I know what it’s like when it’s day after day of waking up to pain. As for my husband he did finally come to his senses and retired as of yesterday. He plans to do therapy with patients 10 hours a week. That’s the plan. We’ll see. Yes, you are right. He will need to do it. Thank you for all the helpful suggestions and for caring enough to voice them. I am very far away from a “no me”. Mooji has helped me learn to clear the mind. It helped while waiting in the doctor’said office to see if my husband had pneumonia again. Many thanks, Tiramit.
It’s been 8 months since the pain started, I think I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be normal. If I’m on schedule with meds, it’s kept in the background. Congratulations to your H on his retirement. For someone like him it’ll be difficult to not be doing things every day. I guess you will be busier now than you have been… encourage him to take up blogging 🙂
Thanks for the precision, patience and insight in these postcards.
And thanks for drawing attention to these qualities; reminding me it does require a little effort but gets easier as you go along…
I am very sorry I went on and on in my comment. Coping with physical illness, mental illness and my husband’so propensity toward serious, long illnesses is very hard. Forgive me my trespasses.
No problem, it gets like that sometimes. The awareness that there are these tendencies is enough maybe to bring things to a halt, balanced on the tip, before the most feared thing takes place, and stay there…
Thank you for your understanding!
Glad you arrived safely Tiramit, with only minor bruises from small rucksacks and elbows. 🙂
Yep, that’s the way it goes… the rough and tumble of getting budget tourists from A to B, strategies of cattle herding 🙂
The photograph has some elements of your paintings
Ah yes, I recognise that now, thanks for helping me see it. Maybe the spaces between the structure, rather than the structure itself…
8 months, eh! Time flies… but it’s no fun!
Tom has as little to do with computers as possible in this day and age. Right now he is very exhausted and quite sick. We go to an urgent care center tomorrow and am praying it’s not bronchitis or pneumonia. He inherited bad lungs from his mother who died of what started out as a bad cold. My trying to eliminate “me” is not working out too well.
Wishing you a handle on the pain,
I hope your T gets better or at least you both can appreciate some immediate sense of recovery. This has got to be the beginning of a big change in life style for him. Now a controlled environment instead of the unpredictable surroundings he’s been in all of his working life? It’s got to be better, just may take some time to adjust. Yep a difficult time too and not the right place to try to eliminate “me” more like an opportunity to see how much it’s just not ‘there’ and if it can take so many different forms like this, it must be that it has no real substantial me-ness. It becomes whatever the surroundings require.
In a different sense, that’s how I’m managing to come to accept this new state of headaches every morning and unexpected outbreaks of it during the day. I only feel like clinging on to ‘me’ when it gets really bad and I’m frustrated by the pain, holding on to how awful it is rather than seeing how everything in life lasts only for a certain time then it changes. And I really don’t remember so much of the bad experiences, so there can’t be a permanent “me’ because I’d be like a traumatized survivor from a war or major catastrophe by now after 8 months of it, and I’m not. So it’s going okay here so far, thanks for your good wishes.