Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

On Flying Alone: Airplanes and Love Notes to My Multitudes November 19, 2008

I love flying on planes and I love to do it by myself. There’s something that is always moving to me about being one of many ones. I mean to point out that so many people on planes are traveling alone.

I love to look at them all and wonder who they are and where they’re going and why they’re going there and if they’ll ever come back. I wonder if they’re going home or if they’re leaving and if they’re sad or they’re excited. I wonder if they’re going somewhere they’ve never been before and if they’re scared at all. I wonder if they’re starting over from the beginning or picking up where they left off. Will someone they love be waiting for them with a rapturous smile or will they be walking into a complete unknown when they deboard the plane?

I marvel at this sort of public anonymity. This no-questions-asked rhythm of coming and going. Leaving in a way that is so obvious, going so far away that you have to take to the air to do it. Yet giving no reason for your departure. Everyone is just going or coming and letting it be just that. It’s fascinating.

It occurs to me that I love to leave. I always like to imagine myself as one of the people who are leaving, no matter what kind of trip I’m on. Whether it’s a departure or an arrival. To me it’s the bravest travel there is. I’ve always been captivated by the idea of leaving all things familiar behind and going where I have never existed to anyone before. The slate is wiped clean and I can be a new person. I can invent a new me. Sometimes I like to retain a bit of the Old Jenny, the bits I really liked and the ones that are Me inside and out. But I like the idea of getting the chance to be something I’ve always wanted to be and not having to explain why I’m this way now. In a new place no one knows, I proclaim myself to be how I want to be. Sometimes I discover that how I thought I wanted to be isn’t really what I wanted to be and I return to the parts of Me that remain.

But even still, leaving is scary. It is a difficult process. I don’t meant to make it sound like it’s all fun and games. As a matter of fact, I don’t see it as a game, but as an undeniable duty to myself. There is certainly a struggle (metaphorically) to be met once I get where I’m going (geographically). But in the end, the geography is not what is important. It’s not the destination, but the journey. I find more of Me, a part of Me that I didn’t know was actually Me. This is the reward for this kind of lifestyle. Finding new parts of Me, my confidence grows and I feel more complete. I can state surely that This is Me.

Walt Whitman wrote, “I contain multitudes.” This is the basis for how I feel it necessary to live my life. So my mission is this: discover my multitudes, or as many as I can while the opportunity is mine.

Some notes, though: This is selfish. The way I think is beyond selfish, even. This isn’t something that has escaped me, unnoticed. Sometimes it hurts people, sometimes I ignore that I am not the only one who contains multitudes. I am transient and I don’t think of what my talk of leaving means to others. I don’t have a solution yet for selfishness, so I just want to acknowledge that I know it’s there. If you’re reading this and I’ve ever hurt you, I’m sorry. But there are those of you that take me as I am (I have 2 people in mind and I trust you know who you are). There is beauty and comfort in your roles in my life because I know that no matter where I go, I have never left you, and will never leave you. And no matter where you two go, you have never left me, and will never leave me. I said this recently in a spiel to one of you, but now let me say it to you both: You are Me. This is something I’ve discovered along my journey. You are each one of my multitudes.

Epilogue:
I have to say… when I started writing this post, I had no idea it was going to end up going where it went. But I’m glad it did. I think for the people who don’t understand the way that I think, it’s important to illustrate that leaving isn’t an attempt to erase the past or to push people away. In leaving, I think we afford ourselves the opportunity to find the truth, love and strength of our relationships, such that no matter where we go, we find we are never alone.

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