I’m on a plane to Chiang Mai. I’m tired. We got to bed later than planned. There was still the details of our stay and transport to arrange. As soon as I got up I packed. No coffee, no butter this morning.
I felt anger and frustration welling up against the security check hold ups. The baggage scan sticker fell off our bag – we had to return and have it scanned again. A large, brand new bottle of water we bought last night had to be trashed. I was going to make coffee with it but had no time.
These were little things, but in my tired state I was getting irritated. Just within an inch of letting it go, voicing my opinion, lashing out. An inch within ruining a streak of clean, uneventful airport passes. Roaming about foreign countries, it’s crucial to steer clear of immigration trouble.
Then I take my seat next to an old Thai man. He looked at me curiously from a dark, wrinkled face, nervous, probably not a frequent flyer. He’s got a plaid button down shirt, baggy slacks, a Converse Parisian style cap. His leather bag is slung over the seat head in front of him.
The moment I sat down, he gave my shoulder a firm tap and urged me to put my bag up in the storage cabinet. Twice. I can understand he was trying to be friendly and helpful in his brusque, masculine way, but it came across as quite pushy in the moment. I gestured that I would place it down in front, thank you.
Thirty seconds later, I’m waiting for my wife to settle in so I can hand off some food we took to go. My seat buddy nudged me and pulled my seat belt buckle toward me. He was determined to have me flight ready.
“OKAY, thank you sir,” I said in a borderline aggressive tone. Read, back off. Not good. I was losing it. This guy was pissing me off. I opened up my fried rice, started eating in spite of being uncomfortable with him staring next to me, and then he nudges me again. A lady needs to get into the window seat. Great.
I start packing up my food so I can undo my belt and get up. Guess what? Another nudge to hurry up. This guy. I was about to blow it. I clamped my mouth shut tight and methodically undid my seatbelt, got out of the way for the lady to sit.
I sat down and finished my food, using every body language technique to tell my neighbor I did not want to be bothered. The egg yolk on the rice made me happier. Relax, relax. He’s just trying to be helpful. I’m just tired. I closed my eyes as the plane got ready to depart. Breathe. Breathe.
I calmed down. Boy, was I spent. Lots of moving around in the last few days. Not enough rest. Breathe.
I started to think about the old man next to me. Another day and I would have seen an energetic, cheerful old man. An old school guy, tough, direct, but good natured. Elderly, but strong. The kind that instills and maintains values in society. The kind I respect. He’s probably a good man. I can feel it, even through the husk of exhaustion covering my mind. Shame that I can’t appreciate that right now.
More breathing and I’m feeling my mind soothe. And then I realize that meditation is all about rest. Rest for the mind. The best way for me to engage myself in meditation is to have a mindset of rest. It’s something I’ve known intuitively, but never put a finger on it. As I focused on that concept, I was able to actively gear down.
I continued breathing. I could see myself removed. My reactions, emotions were swirling to protect me. I rose above them like a plane clearing the clouds. I didn’t think I was this tired, but adrenaline has that numbing effect. I think it’s time to rest.
Who knows, I might even get to know this wide-eyed traveler next to me.