“Unfortunately, the captain has decided we’re unable to land at Basel due to heavy winds. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. We’ll update you once we have more information.”
The plane lurches to the right, the wings creak and groan almost as loud as the passengers.
I’m noticing my breathing, I’m noticing my heart pounding, thumping adrenaline through a body that’s letting it.
“Vipassana meditators aren’t afraid of death, as it comes they are trained to feel, here comes another sensation, arising, passing, and now another sensation, and another…” Goenka’s voice creates the baseline to a cacophony of shrill high pitched “What the fuck, it’s over pal, this is it, this is how you’re going out” shrieks.
I notice my fists are clenched, the small of my back is taught pulling strings in my Jaw. The muscles around my eyes are relaxed.
Hard to believe we even managed to take off from London given the pounding we took on the way up. How far are these gales stretching?
We’re pulling up through the storm and fear is the collective field.
We ascend violently through the worst waiting for more data.
“The captain has decided We’ll re-route to Geneva as the conditions in Basel have deteriorated.”
Half relief, half unknown. Safety first. Please don’t try Basel again. Are things really better in Geneva? Oh well, at least we get a break.
I start to wonder, if this was it, would I regret anything? Have I lived like I really wanted?
I don’t know. It’s complicated. I’ve never really been sure what I want or what I’m doing. I suppose I’d regret that I wish I’d gone for it more. Being stuck halfway is worse than not going for it at all.
Gone for what?
I don’t know, just like, you know fully gone for it?
It’s ambiguous at best. But I feel the pull of it.
Like put two feet into everything and been willing to fuck it up wholeheartedly until I drop through the bottom of it into a greater truth.
I kind of know what you mean. I guess it’s a practice.
Descent into Geneva begins.
“We’re sorry about the inconvenience of the rerouting, we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure you arrive safely in Basel once on the ground. On the plus side, the view coming into Geneva is beautiful” Chirps the PA, I look out the window at looming fog.
Lurch, followed by that bit of suspended animation where your stomach hasn’t caught up with gravity, the whole plane rattles and screams. Vomit splatters into paper bags.
The girls next to me pull their hoods up, moan and curl into one another.
Fireballs pummel through the cabin in my minds eye.
Jesus, this is really going to hurt. For some reason I hear and feel the way it would singe my beard.
I collapse through the bottom of fear and something rises in me.
Come on then! My animal brain is picking a fight with the weather, or God, or both.
It doesn’t know who it’s shouting to but my body pulses cold and perfectly poised, my breath regulates, the fight part of the fight or flight wants to fight the good fight on this flight.
This barbarian viking underbelly of my soul feels lightning shoot through it from the skies, while pulling up electricity from the earth below, the field widens and I’m more than just me.
You can land this fucking plane.
We’re being tossed around but my hands are the pilots, steady, firm and resolute.
You can land this plane.
Lurch, screams, rattle and vomit.
You can land this plane.
Nearly at the runway
Time stops momentarily
Whooomph, the planes engines kick in and we’re powering up into the storm again.
“As you’ve probably gathered the captain has decided to abort the landing again due to unmanageable conditions.”
The plane gets slammed between clouds as we ascend.
People’s guts empty.
Two failed attempts in two different locations.
Now panic is spreading like fever through the cabin. People are shaking, everybody is violently alive.
How many planes are there up here? How much fuel do these things pack? Is it like this all over Europe?? Where the fuck are we going to Land?!
I search for the viking but he’s gone quiet. I just want to get off the fucking plane now please. I’ve had enough.
Right, but you’re in this, you can’t. It isn’t an option. There’s no way down except down through all that shit again. Oh yea. And there’s absolutely nothing about this you can control.
The feeling of total powerlessness makes a quiet incision in my lungs and deflates everything.
Somewhere inside me I can hear a faint echo of something “if this is it this is it, might as well make peace now” OK great. Helpful. Glad it’s that simple.
The truth is always quiet.
“Unfortunately the conditions in Geneva have deteriorated as well!” Oh that old Geneva, what a jolly old tease! “The captain has decided we’re rerouting to Lyon. We’re sorry about the inconvenience, we have to put safety first here. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Sadness begins to pool up inside. Would I want people I love to know what they meant to me? No I think they do, I try to be as expressive as I can when it comes to that. I think I’ve done everything I could to be whatever I could, yet there’s still something missing. What is it? I don’t know what it is. It’s incomplete but I don’t know where the missing piece is…
I’m lost in melancholy and the plane is placid. People are coming to terms with whatever they’re feeling.
Suddenly the ground is close beneath us.
Oh shit! Lyon is calm! We’re going to make it!
A sense of relief and buoyed optimism seems to permeate the bodies of the passengers, it grows up the middle and sprouts into laughter and quick smiles as the plane feathers toward the ground.
Landing gear hits wet cement and is met with instantaneous rapture.
We fucking made it.
The tension melts into tears and hides itself behind my eyeballs while I make enough space to digest and internalise. I text someone special and apologize for any pain I might have initiated through my lack of awareness. As the light grows so does my capacity to destroy. Invoking the practice of responsibility and discernment. Still some catching up to do.
We wait in Lyon with hoards of other awkward travellers, feeding on scraps of information about our fate. We get herded along travelators, escalators, tunnels and bridges. At one point there’s nearly a pile up at the top of an escalator that threatens to spill people and luggage over the edge. I throw a couple of suitcases out the way and a crying child gets hauled to safety. People scowl inwardly. They don’t need this shit, they’ve had enough panic for one day. Their empathetic reserves are running low enough to threaten switching to the reserves of anger. We’re shepherded into an open sanctuary of coffee tables and round backed chairs. A bottomless line begins to assemble round the counter for muffins and hot drinks.
People start to unwind. Play cards, bond over the chaos while pummelling messages out on their phones. Speculation and rumours whip like winds through the mob. Every so often a bus appears in the distance and a mass exodus begins increasing in pace as it notices itself.
I’m still bothered. What am I missing? Is that it? Was that not real enough?