05 November 2012

Turbulence Over the Pacific

Me and my neck pillow, about to board in Vancouver
I left. Throughout my going-away party (which was lovely, thank you) and the final day of packing mayhem and even as I said goodbye to some people to whom it was really hard to say goodbye (hey artist boy, I’m looking at you), I had doubts. Doubts that I would actually do it. But I left. I am gone.

Well I’m kind of in limbo, actually. I am on an airplane. I will actually post this from the safe and cozy confines of the spare bedroom at my friend Tanya’s home in Singapore, but as I write this I am seated in seat 51A of Air Canada flight 7 from YVR to HKG. I have less than an hour in Hong Kong – not enough time for dim sum – and then onwards to the town I once dubbed “The Big Uneasy.

Once I land at SIN I have been instructed to pick up a bottle of JB Blended Scotch for Tanya and her man Peter – spirits are four times more expensive in Singapore than in Canada, and her welcome email included the lines, “If you exit the passengers-only area without a duty- free bag, we will not know you. In fact, we may even alert security that you’re a known chewing gum smuggler.” I will gladly oblige. And maybe even sneak a nip for myself. Violet Dear loves her vodka, yes – but she also loves her scotch. 

Maps. They don't love you like I love you.
I’m getting ahead of myself with thoughts of scotch. Let’s not forget that presently I am on hour nine of a thirteen hour flight, and I am starting to get into the “bored-child” stage of long distance travel. I want to whine and stamp my feet and pout. I’m listening to Tom Waits. I have watched three movies (The Muppets, Kill Bill 1 and The Dark Knight Rises). I have eaten two terrible meals and drank two cokes. I read the latest Vanity Fair and the new Chuck Pahlaniuk (why did I bother?). Enough already.

These next three days are a kind of limbo in and of themselves. A tropical vacation before the real work begins – the dreaded month of silence and meditation. I am scared of Kopan monastery in a nerve-wracking way, in the same way that the anticipation of a first kiss can tangle your stomach and play games with your head. I know that it is going to be wonderful and rewarding and meaningful, but the lead up is a sort of torture. A strange and scary torture.

I described this to my Dharma teacher last week and she smiled her serene 80 year-old Buddhist smile and said, “well, that’s because you like to be in control. You will need to give up some of that control when you walk through the gates of the monastery.” She’s right.

Right now the plane is going through patch after patch of turbulence. It matches my mood and my Tom Waits-fuelled dreams of scotch. I have always liked turbulence, which my friends and family find strange (sister, I wish that was the only thing they found strange) but I find it comforting. Maybe it has to do with the fact that all control over my situation is completely and forcibly removed from my hands when the aircraft shudders and shakes – there is literally nothing I can do but close my eyes and snuggle into my seat and ride it out. I find it calming.

Shit, did I just accidentally write my way into some kind of metaphorical lesson? I swear that it happened by accident, but it seems fortuitous and I’ll take it where I can get it. So listen here, see: the only way I am going to enjoy the next three days is if I take a deep breath and snuggle into the experience and stop trying to control shit and jump ahead into the future, whether that future is as near as Thursday when I check into Kopan or June 15th when I return to Vancouver. Or, for that matter, three hours from now when I get off of this fucking plane.

So shut up, Dear. Flag a flight attendant, have a scotch and get comfortable. Enjoy the bumps. Afterall, you can’t control them – and that is fucking wonderful.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Hey, I love turbulence in planes too! You just have to let it go, lean back and shake with the plane.