Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Travel's Rub

I'm sitting in Tokyo's Narita airport, waiting to board my final flight back to Osaka.  It's about 3:30pm local time, but 11:30pm in my body.  Traveling has such a puckering quality to it.  Holding on and letting go all at once.  Meeting people and loving them.  For an hour as conversations and observations open them on a plane, for a week of sharing meals together, for years of checking in through all of life's circumstances.   Loving them and letting go of them. 

I got caught up in the woman next to me this morning.  Someone I'd never met before and never will again, a unique expression of life's difficulties and pleasures.  She told stories of her father and his children's hospital Boy Scout group, how he included everyone and made them feel welcome despite any medical problems.  She told me he was dying and she was going to see him.  She called her husband as we entered the runway before take-off, gave him a quick message about a health-related call.  He has prostate cancer.  And then she started scratching her palms and I saw how nervous she was and that's when I started talking to her and learned all of this and more.  She spoke loudly and softly, laughing openly and whispering words like "terrorist."  And when we got off the plane, there was no goodbye.  She was off to the life she had to meet, off to her next destination.  And I said goodbye to the cellist I had met, who live in Rio de Janeiro and was spending his holiday at home in New York until returning for the next orchestra season in Brazil.  Maybe we'll see one another again at a another audition.  I've met two more people in the world.

And in the background of all of this are the memories of the places and people that I'm leaving in California.  The opening of lives there.  And the arrival again in Japan, to meet the friends that I have here and opening that space a little further.  And yet in the end, all of these will close, just like the people that I met on the plane.  I left California and the people there, and will leave Japan and the people here.  Letting go to hold on again to let go again.  Little deaths.  Traveling is a practice in living in the space between past and future, a nowhere land, one which intersects with the nowhere lands of many of other people.  

It seems like a healthy response of the body to experience the jet lag of travel.  What would happen if we switched so easily from one place to the other that we didn't feel the rub of the change?  

From here, a week of recovery from a week of being elsewhere, a hazy state of not being in one place until I land again.  I miss California and the friends and family there.  What a wonderful feeling, to miss.

1 comment:

  1. Your airport encounter reminds me of a video: Empathy: The human connection to patient care. Cleveland Clinic - YouTube