We have just returned from a quick trip home to Trinidad. Its purpose was to get mummy moved and settled in to her new little place there. And while it was not a vacation in the usual sense of the word, it was a break from our daily routine and that is always a good thing. So ALL travel is good travel, purely from that perspective. Oh but for me, it is so much more.
My mom, for most of her adult working life, was employed in the city office of Eastern Airlines for its full tenure in Trinidad, so our air passage was free. I looked upon an airplane as some looked upon a bus or a car and my earliest memories are of flying long distances and being in places-afar.
This spliced a wanderlust gene, I think, into my DNA...and so as an adult, there really is no choice, when opportunity presents itself, whether I should go or stay: I always choose to go, despite now having to pay for my tickets, a TRUE bummer. But hey, I don't amass houses or jewels or cars: the treasure of this life of mine is 'held' not in bank notes or stocks but in experiences, may of them engendered by my wanderings. Even my wonderings are often tethered to my wanderings. Yes, I agree, that last sentence was extremely corny.
One of the things I love the most about traveling is getting to people watch. Freed of the ever present To Do list of regular life at home, I can more easily slip into the role of (surreptitious) observer and am always impressed by how much is visible when one really LOOKS.
This time around, I seemed to see a lot of physical pathology. A guy with a golf-ball sized tumour just behind his ear. Another with a cleft lip, whose speech indicated that he also had a cleft palate. A lady with a MD Anderson hospital bracelet on her wrist. The heart wrenchers: little children with obvious physical and mental disabilities. I began to think about the miracle of life and how many wondrous things have to come together just right, on a microscopic, cellular level in order to allow a human being to be "perfectly formed" and free of pathosis. Then I began to consider what is it that constitutes health.
I noticed that many of those humans with issues whom I observed, were still able to laugh and engage fully with life. I could discern a light in their eyes that was the same Light at the soul of the Universe. Behind-the-ear-tumour guy was kind and helpful. Cleft lip/cleft-palate guy was very smart in a grassroots way and had skillful fingers. The disabled children were mischievous and playful like most all children. And those around them (family members, physically unafflicted), it seemed, were given the opportunity to shine also...like the husband of MD Anderson-bracelet-lady, who was so tender and loving with her. There was, in fact, a lot of beauty just beyond that which could be considered, in one regard, imperfect or a raw deal.
This led me to consider also how much people free of physical issues may yet be burdened by emotional pathology. How much baggage (yup, another travel-related quip) might each human be carrying with no obvious outward signs? How many times have I been shocked by the suicide of a person who, on the face of things, had a life which most would envy? Robin Williams comes right to mind: smart, funny, ethical, wealthy, lovely family....yet tortured enough to end his journey early, by his own hand.
One can be riddled with disease and yet be at ease. One can be in perfect physical health, but an emotional basketcase. I conclude then that "Health" must be a certain mental state, rather than a purely physical one. Healing may not always confer physical well-being, but it ALWAYS confers mental well-being. To come therefore, to the natural end of our human lives, and depart in a state of peace means that we will actually die totally healthy. Isn't that a delicious juxtaposition?
I seem to have journeyed from where I began, into the subject of death. I've a lot more to ponder and discuss with you on this specific topic but I must get on with the business of today's living, as I am back at home and the ToDo list is nestled up close. I'll leave you with this short, beautiful animation on Death and the final consideration that to die well, we must train for it by living well...and that is mostly an exercise in training our mind, rather than our bodies.
Let us practice being well today...TRULY well.
I am a field of awareness. Any thing beyond that is identification with form...