Zen Thought for the Day:
Sometimes the Universe is trying to teach you something amazing. Chances are, you will never figure out what it is, so you should just shut up and go where it tells you.
Monday was a very long day of travel for me as US AIR’s navigational/economic strategy sent me from Hartford CT to San Diego, CA via Charlotte, NC. Geographically, I made a huge right angle around the country. As my son pointed out, “you may have actually gone backwards!” What I didn’t know was that the Universe had something to show me.
Okay, so seven hours after leaving home, I actually board the plane in Charlotte for another 5-hour flight to San Diego. There is much afoot on the runway, and the pilot announces they have reversed the take-off direction for all the planes, so we are going to the other end of the runway. A little unnerving, but at least consistent with the way things have been going. Of course, the pilot says, we are running even later, and we finally take off a little after 5PM into a heavy mist that signals turbulence.
And what turbulence it is. It’s impossible to read or sleep (and I already slept enough on the first flight of the day) with all the heavy rocking as it turns out we are skirting a storm that will soon slam the Northeast. Luckily, I have a window seat for the entire show. I can actually see the plane bouncing on gray and white balls of air, and feel the resistance as we chug through the clouds. Lightening bounces around the atmosphere and I swear I see it bounce off us too. My view is from behind the wing—a view like William Shatner had in the Twilight Zone. It’s a moment when you really have to let go of any notion you are in charge of your life. And it’s surprisingly peaceful. Not in charge. What a concept!
And then, suddenly, we emerge from the clouds into a remarkable smooth expanse of sky. I spend the next hour watching as we chase the sunset into the west.
The Captain announces we have found our “altitude” and the rest of the flight will be smooth. The carts come out, the lights come on, and the energy bounces around inside the plane now. While we pass the beverages around (the only thing still gratis on domestic economy—don’t get me started!), we inevitably start to chat, my neighbors and I, a 60-ish gentleman from India, and a woman of about the same age from the Phillippines. And I decide to share my photo from my I-phone. In turn, my compadre shares one from his phone. “I never take pictures,” he says, but I took this one. He shows a remarkable sunset spilling out in pinwheel fashion from behind a mountain in Goa, India.
This man tells me he has lived on 5 of the 7 continents. For the next few hours, I am enraptured by the story of his life—and it is truly a story. Debapatra started as a child in Calcutta, where his family was poor, but he did well in school. His parents knew he would never get a good education in India, so they took what they had and sent him to boarding school in England. There, he found a mentor, who decided to undertake his advanced education. As a child who had always worked, Deb declined a ski trip from his patron and instead took a job with the postal service during his vacation, which angered his mentor. His patron said, “work for the experience if you want to, but don’t do it for the money, when you have alternatives.” His patron insisted on giving him 3,000 pounds each summer to instead explore the world, and so he did.
Deb’s parents wanted him to return to India to be near them, and he did get a lucrative job in Bombay, ironically about 1,000 miles from his childhood home in Calcutta. Over the years, he lived in Kenya, parts of Australia, Jamaica, South America, and the United States (including Texas, California, and Washington DC). He married and raised a son and a daughter, who spent their childhoods traveling, as he often moved for new jobs. Deb’s life work was doing logistical strategies for companies like DHL and FEDEX, figuring out on a grand scale how best to transport millions of packages around the world. It seems that could only come from the mind of someone who has been there, and that’s how his unique career evolved.
Deb now lives in San Matteo, California, where is wife is planning a huge traditional Indian wedding this summer for the daughter. The plans he describes of the 2-day event evoke my recall of the wonderful movie, Monsoon Wedding (which I completely recommend), and Deb laughs and says, “yes, much like that.”
After 14 hours of travel, I finally arrive in San Diego. So logistically, it was a miserable trip. But there seemed to be something leading me to Charlotte despite any logic that I should be there. For one, it took me around storm Ukka, which plowed through the Midwest into the Northeast, and probably would have prevented my travel altogether.
And it led me to an amazing pebble on the road, one that took me on a 3-hour tour of the world, as I would never get to see it on my own. And I’ve remembered to add Katmandu back to my wish list, and now Goa.
My thanks to the Universe and to Debapatra. Enjoy this video by Gomez–it will always remind me of you.
© Arts Enclave, 2013. All photos property of Arts Enclave–all rights reserved.