using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : May 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 21 NORMAL FLIGHT TIME from Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport to San Fran- cisco is eleven hours, forty-five minutes. Several times while boarding, I’ve had the thought that the reason people queue for this flight in a shuffling surge, rather than standing in an orderly line, is that they are already tense—as I am—about the long journey ahead. In the best of circum- stances, the trip is a challenge. As I found my seat on a recent flight, there seemed to be an unusual number of people protesting their seat assignment. I heard one person say, in a plaintive voice, “When I booked this flight six months ago, I specifically said I cannot sit in the middle of a four-person row.” Another voice, more demanding, said, “My whole family is three rows ahead of me. This is ridiculous. We have the same name. How did this hap- pen?” Another person wanted a window seat: “I need to sleep and in a window seat no one will be climbing over me.” Someone else needed an aisle: “I have a bad knee. In an aisle seat, I can stretch it out.” Finally everyone was settled, and we taxied onto the runway. But after some minutes had passed, the pilot announced that the deepening fog was slowing air traffic and we would need to wait— perhaps for an hour—before take-off. Several of the toddlers on board began to cry. (The cry of a tired toddler, louder and less consolable than the cry of an infant, is unnerving.) I supposed that the children were distressed, as a little boy near me seemed to be, by being restrained for so long. Still, flight attendants patrolled the aisles, insisting that “Everyone needs to be buckled in.” I noticed passengers giving pointed, distressed looks to them. I wondered if the passengers were thinking, as I was, “Leave the parents alone. They’ll be in charge of buckling when they need to,” or, “Do some- thing to help these parents to stop the crying!” But my own distress was not caused by discomfort on the plane. I was upset because in the twenty-four hours prior to leaving France, my husband and I, normally the best of friends, had offended each other with remarks that had escalated into smoldering discontent. We rarely argue; more often, we pout. When we are mad, we say very little to each other, and when we speak, it is with exaggerated politeness. Usually, we wait for the confusion to pass, and then we figure out what to say and how to apologize. So as we waited for the out- side fog to lift, I was living with my own mind-fog. Finally, the plane took off. Six hours later, our course changed, and I knew that something was wrong. On the route map on the screen in front of me, the icon representing our west- ward-moving plane turned eastward, as if another destination had been cho- sen. Then the pilot came on the address system to request that any doctors on board come to the forward cabin for a medical emergency. My husband, a phy- sician, had responded to similar calls on other flights. He went forward. An hour passed. During that time, the plane icon returned to its westward path and the route map indicated that we would be landing in a few hours in Ed- monton, Alberta. The pilot announced that due to the medical emergency we would need to stop for assistance before finishing our trip. The people around me figured out, as I did, that this most recent re- routing meant that the person in difficulty was beyond medical help. The assistance we would stop for would be refueling. A man had died. I had the feeling that the mood on the plane was different, more sober. Or maybe it was just that my own mind had changed. Awareness of the temporality of life—a truth I forget when I am confused—startled me into clarity. I apologized to my hus- band for messing up a whole day by indulging in a pout. If I had been paying more attention, I could have addressed the fog in my mind earlier. Had my mind been clear, I could have remem- bered sooner that in the context of a whole life, feeling offended is a minor event—not one worth fussing about. I could have re- membered this earlier—even before the man died—by paying more attention to the people around me who were trying to ad- just to uncomfortable circumstances. If I’d paid more attention to their suffering, and less to my own story, my pout would have been healed much sooner by my own compassion. ♦ SYLVIA BOORSTEIN has a Ph.D. in psychology and is a founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Her most recent book is Pay Attention, For Goodness’ Sake. This Might Get Your Attention Life offers frequent opportunities to interrupt our own suffering, and the suffering of others, says SYLVIA BOORSTEIN. But unless something wakes us up from our preoccupations, we often miss our chance. ILLUSTRATIONBYMISSYCHIMOVITZ