evening, the even-ing

POSTCARD #264: Bangkok – Chiang Mai flight: I could begin with the way the inflight experience is sliced up in manageable chunks and swallowed with drinks and gulps of air, which helps the ears adjust to cabin pressure, but the story of all that remains untold, replaced by the ‘impact’ of landing – in a manner of speaking. Time-and-space folds in on itself and suddenly we’re descending towards Chiang Mai… such a short flight. The plane is clearly pointed downwards, I become a little deaf, it feels like being underwater, and no amount of swallowing or holding the nose between thumb and forefinger and blowing of air into sinus cavities seems to clear it. Plane tilts over and makes a left-hand turn. Low sunlight comes in through the cabin windows on the right side and sweeps around the interior of our small space as the aircraft changes direction, circles around and goes further into descent. It’s as if it were in a flying house, spinning around on its axis and ‘we must be somewhere over the rainbow.’

Yawn and ears go ‘pop’. A whole new 3D sound enters…. didn’t realize how cotton-wooly it was before. Near to landing there’s the sound of the hydraulics, out go the flaps, down go the wheels and the earth rises up to meet us; 300 people all facing forwards in the direction of travel, looking out the windows of a structure the size of a building travelling at 200 mph on what could be a collision course with the surface of the planet. For a moment there’s a glimpse of samsara and the great yawning abyss of existential fear; I need something to hold on to, but there isn’t anything that’ll prepare me for such a colossal event. This is the ultimate roller-coaster experience – and… the aircraft’s wheels take the weight, first the one on the left then the other one on the right, and the deep lurch, sink-down/bounce-back – for a moment it feels like we’re going to tip out of balance and disaster looms, but we’re on level ground.

There’s something about this being in a public context, a shared experience, we’re all in this together folks, spectators watching an actual event in our own lives, the collective sense of a letting-go of something tightly held: woooooo! The perception of Self is relinquished; nobody at home… no identity, just this unattached feeling that couldn’t happen in any other circumstance. A riderless horse, the empty seat… footprints left behind in the place where he was. Symbols of the Buddha before the Greeks created the Buddha likeness we know today.

Awareness of breathing, deeply in and all the way out, like a huge sigh. Watch the breath enter the body again and go through the whole awakened experience. Knowing, consciousness, clarity and the mind settles into the quiet space of no thinking.

Out of the plane and following the exit signs. We’re all just seeing ‘the seeing of it’ as TV monitors here and there tell us stories built upon stories, swirling around events that otherwise take place wordlessly. Colorful banners pasted on every available space with words and images that’ll get our attention and Mind takes over, creates the story of ‘me’ stepping forward, and me as someone at the receiving end. Who’s that mirrored in the glass wall? There, again, stepping out with luggage on wheels, rolling along happily? Subject/object duality locks into place.

The story is everywhere, all around the departure gates and small cafeteria, episodes of it heard in the corridor with the sound of somebody else’s cabin luggage wheels going ‘click-click’ and the clatter of feet. Excerpts of the story overheard in the bar, acoustics muffled by a floor carpet. We’re always only part the way through whatever story it is before another starts up.

Beginnings, middles, and endings of short stories noted while waiting in the cash desk queue at Boots chemist. Stories using words I don’t understand in Chinese, Korean, Russian and a whole world of other languages speaking in stories.

Then I’m waiting in a seat by the exit, with my receipt to give to my taxi driver, just watching the breath and seeing the darkness of afternoon become evening; the even-ing, the smoothening out of wrinkles on a silk sheet stretched over the ironing table. Flat horizon line over an endless sea, the laying-out, as darkness sweeps over us.

Complied with excerpts of a previous post. Photo by Jiab in the south of Thailand

20 thoughts on “evening, the even-ing

  1. Beautiful way you’ve captured the air travel experience, the adjusting to here from there. We drive to and from our other home. I had the sense that covering the miles thus more consciously is better for us, preparing ourselves for the growing awareness that we have moved from endless summer (SW Florida) to a nascent spring (NE Pennsylvania). We’ve been back two weeks. One day was warm enough for shorts and sandals, the rest chilly, rainy, cloudy. I recognize the freedom and ability to have two homes is a luxury, but both a blessing and a burden. Bows to you, T.

    • Thanks Shielagh, sounds like you have a good arrangement there, getting away from the Winter, returning in Spring. And travelling overland, a straight line across the landscape, you’re right about that, gives you time to adjust… migratory birds. We have discussed this before if I recall, and it’s nice how we can have that in common, the adjustment to new, yet familiar surroundings, living in two worlds, pros and cons. It looks like we will have give up one side of it soon, however, maybe moving somewhere else, as yet unknown…

      • Yes, we have discussed this in some way before. For many years we traveled weekly between New York & Pennsylvania. Now semiannually between PA & FL. The same idea but very different! All the best to you and Jiab with the changes that may lie ahead. 🙏

      • Yes, I remember that now and at that time I had no idea that the traveling life would come to an end for us, but it does it seems. Just not practical, people weren’t meant to live half a life here and the other half there. If it does turn out that way for us I shall be glad. At the same time quite willing to call up our travel agent and he will be more than happy to offer us this and that or on a different day, and making changes at the last minute same as usual…

  2. I picked up on the shared experience of landing. That was interesting and made me think that many things in life bring us together in different forms – fear, euphoria, relief, anger – many emotions seem to unite us!

    • It’s interesting isn’t and makes you think how much blogging is made for the shared experience. If it brings good-hearted people together, it can’t be a bad thing. I’m thinking more and more how the practice of meditation is important, no matter how small the time spent on it – even 30 seconds. It’s important because there aren’t enough thinking people in the world…

      • Or maybe some have a completely different way of thinking – maybe that’s the difference between mindfulness and just thinking! And you’re so right about good-hearted people!😘

      • There’s such a lot that could be said about the difference between mindfulness and just thinking. I could say that almost all of the ‘just thinking’ group don’t know what they’re doing and that would be enough. But that doesn’t help our discussion here. There is the shared experience of living and what’s needed is finding the right words that’ll be meaningful to the ‘just thinking group, and never mind about the ‘mindfulness’ group because almost all of it, let’s say, is meaningful if you’re mindful…

      • I love that last bit of your reply – ‘almost all of it, let’s say, is meaningful if you’re mindful’. I may use that as a quote in a new post! 😀

      • Use it in a quote, yes! After all I used your words in a quote in Forever Turning, did you see? I forgot to tell you but I did put in a link to your home page, maybe some traffic came over. Let’s say, almost all of it is meaningful if you’re mindful. Or turn it around any way you want!

  3. Living in two places is indeed a blessing and an unnecessary complication of one’s life. We have been blessed with our little barn upstate and will be happy and also miss it when it hopefully sells and curse New York city at times but, ah, for the simplicity of one place and no traveling!!

    • This is the thing about having two places, arrival and departure don’t mean the same as they did before because there’s no point of origin. The travelling between two separate halves gets to be exhausting as the years go by – it has to come to an end eventually, but for me not just yet. I envy people who have lived in the same place long enough to see the natural unfolding of seasonal change in detail and year after year, refining that knowledge. I’ve missed so much of it…

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