The other day I was on a plane heading for Bangkok, where I needed to renew my passport, and as we flew, I was trying to wrestle with the churning in my stomach. The churning was not from the flight. I'm starting to believe that turbulence does not equal crash time. It was from fear.
I'm planning a trip for next month. It's a month of teaching and guiding meditation, speaking, and sharing about my community at Shekina. It's something Chinua and I have been talking about and planning for months, but as the days fly by, it is becoming more real. Thus, terrifying.
Fear is no new thing in my life. I know how to meet it and speak to it. Ask it questions. "What do you think will happen if you leave your family for a month?" They'll miss me. "Will they be unsafe?" No.
I watched the sky and the earth outside the airplane window. I saw the great shadows of clouds on the ground. I knew that it was very hot down there, in central Thailand at the end of March, and that the moment the sun went behind a cloud would be a little bit of respite. "Ah, that's nice," people might think. "I feel less like the sun is burning through my skull." And I was on the other side of the clouds. Looking down from above the shadow, able to see its whole shape. Maybe every one of those cloud shadows had a person, or two, or three, thinking, "Ah, that's nice. A bit of shade."
There were many rivers and streams. I could pick them out by their impossible curves.
There are many reasons I am afraid. I worry about what I cannot see, and things I have never done before. For some reason, I am worried about being somewhere for a long time without my family. I am worried about what it means. There has been so much emotional shifting going on in me lately. What if I shift beyond what I can understand?
It points to my lack of control. I can't see everything at once. And to love people, I don't need to have them close. To belong to them, I don't need to be right beside them.
From the plane, all of the Thai cities seemed to be built around rivers, following their impossible curves so that the whole city was shaped like a fat river itself.
Just because a thing is something we haven't done before doesn't make it not doable. Chin and I both felt it. We both felt it was time for something sweet, like a journey of sharing and teaching, reconnecting. I can count on this, when my feelings are about as stable as a plane in turbulence.
The people in the shadow of the clouds could not see the edges of the cloud, the way I could, up there in my plane. They didn't know what its actual shape was, from above, or that it stretched from them right to the next field. The whole world felt shaded to them, though they were in a small circle.
I cannot control things by seeing them.
When we drew close to the city, things were suddenly square and grid-like, laid out in rows and rows, perfect houses and streets beside man-made square ponds.
I think I would rather follow the shape of the river, even if I can't see in straight lines. I think I would always like to do new things.