|"This little story I would like
to share with you is about flying.
"I have been on airplanes many,
many times. I fly on a regular basis, but continue
to ‘hate’ flying. It scares me.
"While on board, I say to myself,
what if one engine stops? What if all of them
stop? What if a wing catches fire? What if the
plane is not properly maintained? What if just
one little bolt snaps? What if the plane crashes?
How can I put my life at the mercy of a mindless
"On my last trip from Los Angeles
to Sydney a month ago (I have done this trip
several times before), I reflected that the
plane has to cross the entire Pacific Ocean
with virtually no place to land if anything
goes wrong. What if the plane loses fuel and
needs to land? Where would it land? What if
I die here?
"Then, and every other time,
I sit back and think that I should never fear
death. Death is inevitable. After all, flying
is the safest mode of transport. If ‘my
time is up,’ I would face death anywhere,
even in the safety of my bedroom. There is insecurity
everywhere. Volcanoes and earth-quakes may happen.
A lunatic could approach me and kill me on the
street. I will only get what my Karma sets forth
for me. There is no escape, and there is nothing
"Those "logical" moments
of thinking quell my fears and make me relax.
"Ironically, as a kid, I always
dreamed of flying. I would watch birds with
envy. I would look up at airplanes and think
how lucky were the passengers on board. How
privileged they were to be able to see coastlines,
clouds from above, and real maps which I could
only see in books. How wonderful it would be
to feel that one can actually defy gravity and
fly like a bird! I couldn’t wait for the
opportunity to fly. I was lucky enough to be
in Lebanon, a land of many mountains and glorious
cliffs. I would often climb to a high point,
look down, and pretend I was flying. I even
tried to build flying machines, but they got
me nowhere higher than the ground.
"Unfortunately, the dream of
the child was replaced by the fear of the adult.
When I boarded a plane for the first time, I
was 24 years old. I was a neurotic and paranoid
survivor of a ravaging civil war. I was a fearful
creature. Fear arose in me every time I flew.
"Whenever I flew, I invariably
looked out the window, saw what was underneath
me, enjoyed the view, and wished I could see
with the eyes of the child who has died within
me. The little joy I occasionally got from flying
was always overwhelmed with a much stronger
sensation of fear— even if I suppressed
my fear with the delusive effect of alcohol.
"Today, I flew from Sydney to
Emerald (Queensland). I had to stop over in
Brisbane to change planes. As soon as I boarded
the plane in Sydney, the same fear came back
to me; I wasn’t surprised. I started to
wriggle, worry about every bump, and wished
to get there as soon as possible. When we reached
Brisbane, the wind was fairly strong. The landing
was rough. I was very nervous.
"When I boarded the little twin-propeller
plane to Emerald, I had a window seat. The trip
was rougher. I was even more nervous. I played
the song of calmness as I normally do, reminding
myself that there is nothing I could do and
that whatever happens and there is no need to
fear anything. It worked as usual.
"Looking out the window, I remembered
some words about the present— the very
precious moment of the present that we normally
overlook. I was not thinking of flying at all
then. I was only remembering the words. At that
moment, I realized that I was only suppressing
my fear about the unlikely event of a plane
crash. The calm I thought I had was nothing
more than a fool’s paradise. Even though
I managed to suppress this fear, I thought,
I was still unable to enjoy the moment I am
experiencing now; the present.
"As soon as I awakened to this
fact, I looked at the beauty of the scenery
outside as it was then, in that very moment;
without having to wonder and ponder as to what
could happen next. I immediately jumped inwardly
and realized that I AM FLYING! I am above the
clouds! What a wonderful view it is. What magnificent
technology man has developed to allow me to
see this. I am indeed flying, and I love it.
"Every new moment brought new
scenery. The bumps turned into gentle rocks
of a cradle, an adventure ride. I was flying
with the clouds. I saw mountaintops. I saw towns
like little models. I am finally flying!!! For
a few minutes, I was totally oblivious to the
future and what it might bring. It didn’t
seem to exist (does it ever before it actually
happens?). I was just simply enjoying the present
moment(s) and the joy they brought to me. My
childhood dream had come true.
"Do we ignore the present because
we are unable to catch and possess it? I wonder."