Saturday arrives and I have a trip to make ; a small, twenty-four hour journey to attend the memorial service of a dear friend. Nothing unique about it – getting up at 3am, getting everyone ready, leaving for the airport, dropping kids at a friend’s home and taking a four-hour flight. The rest consists of meeting friends, attending the ceremony, speaking a few words (which I am constantly battling with), hugging and parting and finally, taking a red-eye back home. Something to start and feel that everything is useless in a bigger scheme of things, letting it all go and come back to a zone of routine that whispers invincibility all the time.
After doing the needful, I sit in the plane and watch outside, holding a kindle in my hand – ready to dive into another book to spend my time “meaningfully”. I am far away from the idea of God and spirituality and only reverberating the tasks at hand – especially the words I am supposed to say in the memorial service and the right set of clothes I am supposed to wear.
The plane backs up, walks to the runway and takes off . The climbing sun and the noisy machine, the losing boundaries of buildings and cars make me fall asleep – holding the electronic book in my hand, as a reminder. After an hour, I open my eyes to Life of Pi, playing on a small screen in front. I watch the entire movie, once again. The kindle stays locked and waiting. A notion of God enters my mind as the movie winds up. I feel compelled to look outside.
Clouds swim in blue waters of vapor and align the sun. Hiding stars under the tarpaulin of golden light, they extend into an oblivion and cross over into the beginning of another universe. My bubble of invention cruises forward in space leaving a trail of questions – what lies beyond this periphery of horizon? What is locked behind these curtains of light; what is hidden in the open, nothingness of space? Maybe an afterlife; a cascade of our dreams or a parallel universe marked by sacred threads of time or a divine abstraction watching us? The cranky boat of my airplane floats through a solemn splendor of nature – devastatingly serene – for if lost here, there is no hope of surviving. It is interesting to be in proximity of death beyond my window; looming in tranquil bulk and offering ultimate peace while life on the other side is struggling and breathing the oxygen of chaotic, words and science. I hang at the intersection, wide-eyed and glued to the window.
A mountain range appears – the dunes of soil rise from the invisible land below like burnt bread out of a toaster with salt of snow sprinkled unevenly. Their existence is a spectacle of nature watching and creating a masterpiece at the same time. It is painfully alluring to see the abundance spilled in a magnitude that is boundless with no specific purpose and no advertisement about it being special. And here we are, screaming about every little accomplishment and our unique presence in the universe. And our lives, though giving an impression of being distinct, are ultimately a part of something gigantic and manifold which is beyond uniqueness and yet mixed with everything that appears simple and vague.
The mountains end and a civilization begins. I look at the geometry, the symmetry of houses, pools, lawns, communities, towns and trace their straight lines. They are conserving what they carry within – marking their comfort zone, unknown to the fact that they are only floating on a small cushion of certainty that rests on a sea of unknown depths.
Everything fits in my small window: a lake, a dock, several hills, a town, a giant runway. Rising above, makes all the difference in perception. What seems vital in the domains of our existence may not be vital in a bigger scheme of things. I imagine what may be happening below in a home. Its chimney catches my eye and a family sleeping in late on a weekend enters my vision. I feel connected to the unknown dwellers – in their misery and joy as we both are living life at this very instant – we are breathing the same air; we are nourished by the same sun; we are covered by the same sky and we are looked after by the same entity. Tears well up for no reason, and my logical self is embarrassed to realize that I am crying.
There is a thick cover of clouds ahead – almost at ground, or so it seems. Beyond it, is a city partly under its blanket with a few, whispering lights, a traveling smoke and a patch of equally spaced trees. Everything is clear above the clouds – serene and bright with no ambiguity. But as my plane descends, first into the thick foam of clouds and then further below, the view changes. A world emerges with its confusing signals, arrogance and illusion – a world covered by a lid. I look up and even though I can no longer see the serenity and clarity; I know it is up there beyond the clouds, at the end of mayhem, keeping an eye on us.
It seems as if the reality of our existence is hiding above and the ground is an illusion. A life begins from somewhere up there – innocent and flawless and emerges here on the ground. In the end, the material world takes away all that it gives – flesh, blood and all that we create here – sending our souls back – beyond the clouds of doubt and rationale. On either side, divinity is stuck within us – in a glimpse of our soul, our clarity and the essence of our magical existence. It stays invisible but is realized when we choose to see; believe in it.
The plane descends; touches the rough concrete and I walk out into a space lit with fluorescent lamps, grey carpet, people and their baggage of all kinds. The kindle is safely tucked in my purse and I am no longer thinking of meaningful words to say at the service or the right attire (did I mention that before?) to reflect my true feelings. Perhaps I met God on my way here; perhaps I saw the whole universe in my four-hour long journey. Perhaps, I woke up for a few minutes from the sleep of life to realize my (in)significance and the fact that things just happen. To limit them within a boundary of reason, is to limit ourselves as human. To set free – is to be boundless like the sky above – trusting that we are taken care of, one way or another.