is there anything?

POSTCARD #266: Delhi-Newcastle flight: There’s something about these long, high altitude journeys – this flight is only 9 hours but long enough to realize, as the hours and miles go by, we have totally left our place of origin… everyone seated, seatbelts fastened, and facing the direction of travel, committed to going ahead with ‘the plan’ which is still in its unimplemented state at this time, and rushing towards that reality at 600 miles per hour in a huge forward-facing directionalized force – teeth-clenched momentum.

Where we are in the meantime is so obviously unimportant, there’s a small fold down table, a reading light, a TV screen. Look outside and we’re in a nowhere place. A strange fractured light, clinical bluish-white, in a place of no-place, just the sensory receptors; eye, ear, nose, tongue, skin-feeling, and mind, in a shared space. Seeing the events without the story. Seeing the seeing; awareness of the awareness; knowing the knowing.

Suddenly, in my thoughts, I’m with my mother in the low-ceilinged, curtains-drawn, Care Home on a wet afternoon in Scotland. Holding her hand and there’s this very long outbreath… I’m waiting for the in-breath to come – breath in, breath in! But no, she stops breathing… just like that. I see the moment she dies and it’s like this is her last teaching to me: this is how you die son, just watch me… and I see her move from present time into the past tense – completely.

So there we are. Is there anything remaining? This story comes to an end, disappears in patterns of thought. Old thoughts recycled from yesterday and the day before, and the absolute totality of thought. Layers upon layers of interconnected thought. All of it clouding over and gone in an instant, but is there anything in the space of no-thought that just resonates with mother’s presence somehow?

The great relinquishment, and seeing her death led to a major letting-go thing. It doesn’t take much more than a moment before the Me and supporting cast remove themselves from active engagement with the story. Then an immense sense of gratitude. Slip over the edge of having-it into the empty space of not-having-it and see how life goes on same as usual without all the backup.

Enter password, unlock, and give it its freedom. For me, roots pulled up and a commitment to spending the rest of my life in someone else’s country. It’s irreversible and knowing that, helps somehow. But there’s this thing, is there anything remaining? I think there’s something of mother here, but I don’t know if that’s the psychological result of me coping with the loss, or is it a separate resonance coming to me from what remains of her.

We’re coming in to land over the South side of Newcastle, and I’m thinking about the new-born baby boy I’m here to visit up North. Is it morphic resonance? I do feel a particular warmth in the center of my body when I think of the child. Is this the resonance from my mother passed through this child who would have been her great grandson?

Looking out of the aircraft window now; how do these thoughts fit with all these millions of people going about their business down there, no time to see if there’s anything else but Science to believe in? Here in these fleeting altitudes there are no thoughts, they’re all maybe still in the somewhere-place back over the curvature of the planet. My face turns forwards with everyone else’s, waiting to see what this journey brings.

Photo shows the east coast of England, south of Newcastle

28 thoughts on “is there anything?

    • Thanks Tom, I’m here now safely landed and thinking about there never being much of a division between living and dying. There’s something very reassuring about that, thanks.

  1. I enjoyed your reflections T and sense a deep warmth in your homecoming. For me, it begins with the coastline from the plane, and then the bracing air… and people!
    May you enjoy this connection to the past and future 💛

    • Thanks Val, I was lucky to have the seat on the right side of the plane, and I saw the stretch of land approaching, got the photo and it was okay. That’s our experience now; take the photo and zoom into the image to see what’s there. So, yes it was like that, staring at the zoomed-in image and feeling that deep warmth of homecoming. Thanks for pointing that out…

    • Well, he’s my nephew. The only one in that generation – family is a bit scarce here. All the more reason to celebrate this new boy. Thank you Eliza.

  2. “Only 9 hours,” sounds so long to me. I am glad for you that you were able to be with your mother as she breathed her last. My mother waited until I went home that night 12 years ago to let go. How wonderful to be winging towards a grandson! I hope the visit with family, and this new one, is wonderful. Yes, there is something, I think.

    • Yes there is something, I think too. I’m in Scotland now and going to visit the boy this morning. This is where we consider death and birth, and pondering that question – when they are so close together. More to this than meets the eye, that’s all that can be said. Thanks for your kind words Shielagh.

  3. Very beautiful and very moving! Get the most on returning to your roots and seeing your mother’s great grandson. How did we get to be this old?? It’s a cliche but where do the years go. When life is painful time seems to stop. I just celebrated my 28th wedding anniversary and it seems like yesterday. Have a good trip!

    • How did we get to be so old, yes. Ageing children… there’s a song from the sixties can’t remember how it goes. Anyway, now I’ll see the boy today. There’s a once in a lifetime feeling about this

  4. Another fin piece of writing. Certain (morphic?) resonances for me with a poem I wrote yesterday, Twilight’s Last Gleaming. I plan to post it later today, so you can see for yourself

  5. I am captivated by the imagined thought that your mother would be giving you a last teaching, “This is how you die, son.”
    Only recently I’ve had similar thoughts of my own imminent demise.
    That I might make my life, even my death, of value to others.
    Blessings on you and your family.

    Seek peace,


    • I know what you mean Paz, the problem is the taboo against death we have in the West. In the East there’s a wealth of teachings about life and death. The elderly stay with their families and die in their own place, with relatives and children all around. As likely as not, when it comes to our turn we will be hidden away in old folks homes, I was thinking of that when my old mum passed away in an old folks home and there was only one other family member present. Fortunately, I was holding her hand when she passed.

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