Deer Park, Day Twenty-Nine: Homeward Bound (Part 2)
(written on Saturday February 8th)
10:00am (mountain time).
I flew into Seattle yesterday from LAX and found the word CANCELLED next to my flight number on the electronic departure board. I headed to the Alaska Airlines customer service desk to find that our flight’s crew had “timed out.” Apparently that meant that we either did not have a full crew to fly or they were unable to fly due to being over their allotted hours. A couple of passengers were frustrated, understandably so, especially for one man who might miss his brother’s wedding. While I was looking forward to seeing my husband and son I also felt very well taken care of in light of my new travel plans. The airline put me up in a nice hotel, the Double Tree, and booked me on a flight in the morning. I took a well-heated shuttle bus to my hotel (it was very cold in Seattle) and when I arrived I was greeted with a nice warm chocolate chip and walnut cookie (a Double Tree specialty), which was simply delicious! It was around 8:30pm when I arrived in Seattle last night and as that has been about the time I’ve been going to bed while on retreat I was quite tired. So I was very grateful to be given a warm cookie and a warm comfortable bed. Life always happens just as it is meant to, even when the conditions are unexpected.
En route to Missoula…perhaps. At the gate in Salt Lake City, where I picked up my connecting flight after Seattle, we were told that while there is currently good visibility in Missoula that it is subject to change. If the weather changes there’s a chance we will land instead in Kalispell, where the airline would then bus us to Missoula. Only time will tell if my travel adventures will end soon or continue on.
We’re at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. Outside my window our airplane is surrounded by a thick translucent white fog lit up brightly by the sun. This morning I woke up early to catch my flight and did some sitting meditation in my hotel room. In the dark of the early morning I got onto the airport shuttle and was on my way. While standing in the security checkpoint line at the Seattle airport I enjoyed my breathing in and breathing out and felt as my two feet rested firmly and with ease on the floor. As I waited in line I began reflecting on a question that my new dharma sister Llora had asked me on our long hike this past Monday. We got talking about traveling and I spoke of my love of airports and flying. She told me that flying causes anxiety for her and that she dislikes it. She then asked why I enjoy it so much. While I’ve thought about this question before I was able to look into it more deeply today prompted by her curiosity.
Taking in my surroundings as I stood in the security line I had the insight that my enjoyment of airports and the flying experience is due to feeling part of a large air traveling sangha! We are all en route, going somewhere, bags packed, ready to fly. We are all united in our travels, clumsily stripping ourselves down to go through security, sharing cramped spaces, bumping elbows and luggage, being wonderfully uncomfortable together! And there are so many people abuzz around us travel-folk taking care of us, ensuring that we have a safe, clean, and pleasant flight. The whole flying experience is like witnessing a great symphony of orchestrated infrastructure, with metal birds as the musical vehicle to transport us fluidly from point A to point B. To fly is a miracle!
I mean really, flying is a gift, a luxury, and a cause for boundless joy! Looking around at all the faces of my fellow brothers and sisters I see clearly that we are all connected.
(As an after note we were able to fly into Missoula and I landed home with my family, my friends, my sangha, and my snowy mountains safe and sound).