Airport Culture and The Dalai Lama

imagesED0G4VTXMid winter crazies – and once again a weird thing has crossed my path to break the dismal feeling of this season – this year…Australia. Really? Every  year this seems to happen, where I find myself by some bizarre circumstance in a foreign land.

The last time was Costa Rica. My house was being renovated for months and months and I absolutely had to get out of the chaos or go completely bananas.  My understanding husband (having me around crazy couldnt have been helpful!) helped me figure it out and I  booked a resort.  I hate resorts but it was the only cost reasonable way to do this. I was on my own in the middle of South America and there were serious learning moments, I tell you, when I questioned my own sanity. I was there for only 48 hours when my phone and money were stolen and I was harassed by all forms of man – the worst of them being an angry Canadian (ex girlfriend, done him wrong blah blah…talks too much.)   I kept the conversation short and moved on heading to my resort in a little white taxi with my guiatr and backpack, I looked like a total Canadian hippie.

He found me on the beach the morning after we arrived.  I was sitting in the rising sun playing guitar, and he arrived with his violin.

“This is gonna be fun!” I thought.

Except I was wrong.

He immediately offered to sleep with me if I would share my hotel room with him. Beware of gross men while travelling ladies.

I smiled. “Um no. Not what im here for. I don’t even really want to have conversation with you – never mind sex.  Plus I am happily married…”

I was calm when he told me I should feel privileged to have someone like “him” hitting on me. That I wasn’t exactly “the prettiest woman in the world”.

Oh brother…

He went away and all was well. Costa Rica was a blast. I left the resort and ended up in a magical place with horses, and Canadian and South American musicians whom I have kept in touch with and have since gone back to visit.

I love the unpredictability of travelling…and I love love love going to places that are totally different from what i know. it’s wonderful to see that you can exist in so many different contexts, with other people. You really learn about yourself.

Travelling has given me a certain amount of important knowledge and personal flexibility:images725J2IMY

– I’ll eat just about anything – except chicken in an airport, or sea urchin in China. Blech.

– I’ll talk to anyone willing to listen – even if we don’t speak the same language.

– I can sleep standing up

– I can find ways to entertain myself while sitting on a small 2×2 space for 12 hours in ways that would astound you.

– Junk food in airports tastes better than anywhere else in the world

– You will need a mortgage to afford eat in an airport

– all airport eating areas look like they were decorated by the Jetson’s.

The flight(s) to australia are very very long; definitely the longest I have ever taken in my life.  From Montreal we fly to Vancouver overnight – a six-hour flight.  Then Vancouver to Sidney will be a whopping 14.5 hours on a plane. Airplanes have their own culture.  Really when you think of it, an airport is the most BIZARRE energy to be in. A kabillion different cultures all mixed up into one place – every kind of variety of person you could ever wabnt to see is in an airport. Everyone is sort of together and disconnected all at the same time. harassed, annoyed rushing bag dragging folk from all walks of life, run hither and thither gate to gate – focused on the next leg of their journey.  people have no clue about their personal space in airports.  You get banged and bumped – quick apologetic smiles as people continue on the harried way.onaplane

for someone like me who lives a really quiet farm life – with the occasional extremely public performance nights – being in an airport with all those people and all those bundles of energy is exhausting. Not exactly a place that i feel “spiritually connected” – actually the opposite; airports make me feel totally ungrounded.  I guess that makes sense since we are all a bunch of people trying to get “up in the air”.

When I found out about Australia (only like a week and a half ago) I balked.  I was concerned about leaving the horses and so much heavy farm work in what I see as the worst cold winter in years (I think I say “it’s been the worst winter” every year). I am so grateful for my eldest daughter Meagan who will be coming to care for them. Still, I know how tough this will be for her. Mucking ten stalls every day, hyper horses to turn out, heavy bales of hay to haul.  Craziness.

But I know all this worry will magically go away once I cross those airport doors. It has to do with surrender and weird airport energy. A feeling of surrender and abandon once you pass through he front doors of the airport – because you realize that the next few hours (or days in my case) of your life aren’t your own really.  These people are completely in charge of your existence in every way, from your security, to food to being hauled into a giant piece of metal that will climb into the air 30,000 feet and, miraculously remain suspended for FOURTEEN AND A HALF HOURS.  OK, I am not a nervous flyer, but this to me, is simply unbelievable. So, flying can teach you about surrender.

Airports can also teach you about serenity – because if you can find it there my friend, you can find it ANYWHERE.

I wonder what H.H. the Dalai Lama does? He flies everywhere all over the world, and he is like 73 years old.  Makes me feel a little wimpy worrying about how my back is going to handle 14 and a half hours of sitting with intermittent spastic stretching in front of three hundred people who are doing their best to try to ignore each other. Have you ever tried stretching in the bathroom. Impossible I tell you.

If you travel enough you get to know certain things about certain airports:

– the six kilometer walk from the terminal to security and customs is TOO LONG everywhere – especially if you arrive late and are irritable and tired.

– Traditionally religious people often travel together usually in large groups with many small children. You see more single white male travellers than any other.  Japanese travellers usually have really nice luggage.  Just sayin.

– Airports in small countries have no real runways and landing is always terrifying

– The air in all airports feels strange.

– Airport bathrooms are always horrible

– Airport chicken will give you salmonella. Ok. Maybe not all the time – but if you don’t want to find yourself projectile vomiting all alone in +40 heat in a unwalled airport in costa Rica, passed out on the floor while people step over your prostrate body – then don’t eat chicken in airports.

– All airports are (now) filled with hordes of people who are not looking where they are going because they are all very very busy making last-minute contact to the outside world on their I-Phones to be in any way aware of their physical surroundings.  It seems like the Minute one enters an airport they are trying to find a way to be in some other reality. really, who would blame them? ( I wonder if H.H. Dalai Lama tries to meditate his way out of is body so he can tolerate the experience? )

baby_airplane_350w_263h3 Listen, anyone who has flown has had the crying baby experience, spoiled kid, dude who talks to much experience, the too much perfume lady, the sleeping on your shoulder drooling guy (ok maybe that was just me). Then there’s that crammed, crowded claustrophobic get-me-the-hell-off-this-plane feeling – but that only happens towards the end, because until then, you know you have no choice, so you surrender. you surrender tot he bevy of smells that assault you as you walk down the aisle. then in a few minutes when the artificial air is turned on, you wonder even more about where the smells went, and a new sort of vapid air replaces fresh clean earth air.  It begins to compress as the plane readied for take off, and a sort of insulated feeling comes over you, making you sit heavier in your seat.

Take off is my favourite. commercial-airplane-taking-off-and-high-resolution_227318

I know that statistics say that it’s the most dangerous part of the flight because if one little thing goes wrong in a certain 6 second window, poof – it’s all over. But really, that’s out of your hands once you have bucked that seat belt. Being nervous would be a waste of time.

instead you can enjoy the feeling in the pit of your stomach as the huge piece of metal curves upwards for the first time making it feel as though even your skin is being pulled downwards. Gravity falls on you like a comfortable blanket. And even at 48 I am like a little kid and always want the window seat.  Watching the world fall away beneath me is spectacular, especially if the plane tilts the direction I am looking and suddenly it feels as though we are being pulled up and down all at the same time.

The world is so incredibly beautiful from the air. Before you pass the cloud line you see where you live in a whole new way. So small, and part of some bigger piece of land always in some way.  Everything looks perfectly connected from the air – like we planned it like that or something.  But we didn’t. It just all ended up looking perfect. even the lands that aren’t touched by us, but by some unseen force that relegates the direction of things, it all seems to just fit perfectly.

I need to share these pictures with you…

aerial-over-kansas-from-an-airplane-window

5800421371_db4dea8fa5_b8168864552_ef96c6bc23_c

Flying over mountains is the highlight of any flight.  I flew over the Alps once in my life and I will never forget it.  They are  majestic and indescribable.  They are so high, that when you first see them you are sure they are part fo the clouds, rising often above like I suspect Mount Olympus would look, big enough to hold Zeus himself.  The white snow on top of the Alps is so white, it looks like it is made out of light itself, just shining like diamonds in the sun. The hard rock of the mountain so dense it held a bluish grey tint, not like mountains I had seen before that were more grey and dull, these looked like they had been painted stunning hues of deep midnight blues, I suppose because of the freezing of the ice at the awesome heights.alps

I didn’t get any time in Zürich, we had to transfer but made sure to stop at a stand to buy some freshly made chocolate.  I could see the mountains from the airport window.  They made me feel incredibly small but big all at once.

I’ve always wanted to try to pinpoint the strange experience flying to foreign places encompasses.  I know I am very lucky to have had these chance, and everywhere I go, I try to learn as much as i can about important things so I don’t lose the experience.

I’m very lucky. I think I have a karma that require seeing many may things. Since I have been very young, I have had chances to see most of the world – china, africa, europe, most of north america – even Alaska.  The two places “on my bucket list” which have yet to materialize are india and Italy. we’re working our way to the “I’s” 🙂 We will be greeted by +37 degree weather according to predictions upon our arrival. I fully suspect my skin to just simply fall off and I will molt like a snake under the vapid heat.

Australia is a new idea for me and i’ll let you know how it goes )

peace

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