Monday, October 3, 2011

Stillness {Day 3}: Humans in Flight

Spent my day flying.  There was a cabin-full of people, all sat still for five hours from LA to Washington.  At the beginning of the flight, after all the boarding and the polite would you like the window seat?, the captain asks all electronic devices be switched off.

For 10 minutes.  And then, blessed relief, all can be switched on again, each of us with our own seat of headphones, our own "electronic devices", our own little spheres of existence.

All of us, sat in our seats, carefully buckled in.  Parked in one spot for the next five hours.

This is stillness, right? 

No.  Not, not still in the slightest.

A cabin full of passengers, each with their own small screen in front of them where you can dial up games, movies, satellite tv - the latest on Jersey Shore, dontcha know - for the entire flight.  You can even click little buttons to let the cabin staff know that you'd like a drink, please.  2 minutes later, your tonic water wordlessly turns up and with a pleasant smile, the steward is on his way.

This is not stillness.

Stillness is not Not Moving. Stillness involves consciousness.  Stillness involves, well, being still.  In heart, in mind, in body.   It doesn't mean watching a whole movie from start to finish.  It means allowing yourself the space to say I'm not going to watch.  I'm not going to listen.  I'm not going to type.  I will simply be here, and be aware of all that is going on around me, and all that is in my head.

A scary proposition, this.  For those of us with phones that can look up anything, present us with information and emails and 'pokes' on a non-stop basis, it is a scary thing to turn it all off.

I sat for a moment, in my seat, looking around at the screens in every seat in front of me. I thought about making my 9 year old next to me switch off to play Bananagrams instead.  And then, sadly, I pulled out my laptop instead, switched on my iTunes, and plugged in.   Stillness escaped, once again, but just for that split second I saw how elusive, how very slippery, the stillness is.

It slips away.


The Empress said...

I know.

Sometimes this thought catches me, and I get scared.

Life is happening...we think we are living it, but we are missing it.

Emily@remodelingthislife said...

Ditto to The Empress. Last night, I literally jumped up and down with glee when I switched on Instant Netflix and saw there were new episodes of my 3 favorite shows. More to fill my quiet evenings with! I was excited when I saw there was an Angry Birds Rio update. Something to do while I wait in the car pick up line after school. I actually thought "it's a technological conspiracy to keep me from ever being productive." Or Still.

I wish I was better at really literally doing nothing. I am the one who thinks it's a big deal if I sat through the whole movie and didn't check my email or play Words With Friends on my ipod.

Ugh, I have a long way to go.

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