world without end


POSTCARD#399: Phuket-Bangkok flight: The wing seems to extend into the clouds, like the perspective of a highway leading off into the sky. A curious illusion, although no more curious than the illusion that’s all around: seeing the seeing; awareness of the awareness; knowing the knowing. The plane tips over and on the other side, inside the cabin there’s the view of the islands with Andaman Ocean filling the cabin windows all along the aisle of this partially empty plane, due to covid restrictions.

Masked passengers spaced out in the aircraft interior with an empty seat between each person. After a while Jiab and M fall asleep, and I’m left without a book and no phone – it’s a short flight. Looking out through the windows on all sides, at the clouds in the sky. The illusion of being motionless while travelling at 600 mph. How strange… everything is so quiet and still, clouds seem to enter into the interior. A masked stewardess appears through the wispiness and mists of high altitude spaces and asks me if I need anything from the drinks cart? Thanks, no, everything is heightened as it is.

Conspicuous eye makeup above the face mask, gestures with her head to say okay if you need anything… and pushes the drinks cart down the aisle, glasses tinkling a strangely familiar chord or tune I used to sing to.

Look out the window again and reassuring to see this wonderful broad wing surface out there, holding us stable in this strange void, moving at 600 mph, in a great whoosh above the surface of the planet. The whine of engines and this immense energy that catapulted all of us up here, an amazing technological feat in the right context becomes just the mechanical nature of things. Assembled pieces form the aerodynamic flying machine, wing structure anchored under the seating aisles so that passengers are sitting on top of a sort of swept-back flying crucifix.

The descent is quite bumpy, luggage compartments overhead rattle and creak in the vibration. For a moment there’s an awareness of tremendous velocity, vulnerability, and the mind seeks to conjure up all kinds of explanations for it. I hold it there in the empty space of nothing-has-happened yet. The sound of hydraulics, down go the wheels and the earth rises up to meet us. Then there’s the felt ‘bump’ and we are down. Wheels take the weight, and the engines roar.

Exit the plane and out into the high ceilinged airport halls. Pick up the bags and head for the Taxi desk. Arriving is the departure point for the next journey, and another opens up after that. There’s something about the flow of faces passing me, pulling their luggage, holding their children. Maybe I see their faces more clearly because there are fewer of them than there was, due to covid.

The ‘world’ as a projection of the senses, everything tailored to fit and unbelievably believable… I can see it, hear it, smell it, touch it, and taste it. It looks real but what is ‘real’? ‘Real’ is only my perception of it. I need to remind myself it’s like this, the illusion is so compelling… I become the ‘self’ that inhabits this body, appearing in the being-ness, appearing as ‘me’ and part of the whole thing; world without end.

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