01 June 2008

Nirvana on an Airplane

I experienced Nirvana on a commuter airline flight.

Every comedian has some kind of routine complaining about the peanuts, the crying babies, passengers with too much carry-on luggage, the big sweaty guy that sits in the middle, white hairs with WAY too much perfume, the stewardess that thinks they are God, or the First Class - Coach schism. I recall a 1987 flight, under-age, in a window seat, sipping on a Tanqueray and tonic smoking a Camel cigarette watching the clouds swoosh beneath the aircraft wing in what I could only describe as a Frank Sinatra moment. Back when the last 3 rows were for smokers and we actually used the ashtrays built into the seat arms now only inhabited by the stray glob of occasional chewing gum. As nice as 1987 was, it wasn't Nirvana.

I'm going to save you some time and dive right into my definition of Nirvana: A state of not fearing death, not fearing being uncomfortable, expecting that something completely unexpected will occur, most moments are disguised as boredom, it always gets better, and whatever happens might be the last time it happens so savor it. Much of the human drama is meaningless so don't get wrapped up in the hype.

OK, not the most colorful definition of Nirvana, but I revel in the fact that it's right in front of me right now and I haven't even sky-dived from a satellite, surfaced from my trip to the bottom of the ocean or walked around on the moon. Sitting right in front of me is the fact that I will be dead some day. Perhaps now, perhaps tomorrow. I'm OK with that. I just don't want to be scared. I want to watch with a macabre sort of suspense. What might happen?

As far as my experience on the airplane, I realized how personal it was. Visions of infinities, other worlds, unfathomably complex designs, the incredible beauty, the incredible light, the skin, the tongue, the fingers. My minds eye floated outside the aircraft and watched the miracle of us 200 passengers whizzing through the air in a metal tube. With our giant brains and our indifferent genes, and all our shocking similarities. Sometimes it just seems so impossible that this is all happening.

The suspense is killing me. I hope it will last.

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