My ticket is one-way, CHICAGO-SEOUL. I’d always wanted to go to Chicago- Bill Murray is from Chicago, and Harrison Ford, too- Han fucking Solo and Indiana Jones. My layover is four hours- not long enough to leave the airport. I’m hungry. Can’t find a place that sells deep dish pizza. Can’t find a deep dish pizza in O’Hare. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Maybe it’s just 9:30 A.M. I try to meditate.
I must look ridiculous, sitting cross-legged in my Chucks and leather jacket, trying to ignore the hustle of the masses, molasses. Worrying about looking ridiculous defeats the purpose of meditation, I think. Can’t focus. Take out my laptop. Twenty minutes of free Wi-Fi: That’s all you’re given these days: Twenty minutes. A taste. Bastards might as well be pushing drugs. Take out a book. Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. I read it writing my thesis, not the same as reading it now. Get on the plane. Take off is bumpy in the tail. Cruising altitude.
The sun is so much brighter above the clouds. This is the closest I might ever be to it, I think. I watch the wing tilt up, towards an ethereal blue. People sneer at me and the angry sun streaming in my window. I feel like I’m watching myself from the cloud, or from the ground, like a bird. They’re trying to sleep. I don’t care: Nobody should sleep this close to the stars. Jimmy Page massages my eardrums with the Ramble On as I stare over the pillow-soft clouds. Zeppelin II- so underrated. I remove my headphones when I notice my neighbour talking to someone in front.
Now you see here, Chuck, alls I’m trying to say is equilibrium is possible, even if you have to fly 32,000 feet to find it.
This cowboy, looking like Woody Harrelson, steals me from the clouds. Maybe it is Woody- sounds like him. I’ve been awake too long, I think.
It’s about balance, he says. He is talking to the chair.
Are you talking to me?
My name isn’t Chuck.
Look, there: Perfect sorta balance. He points out the window. Man wound tight as you oughta realize there’s a simplicity to this: Equilibrium. You’ve gotta learn to balance your fuck yous with your Feng Shuis, your Bonsais with your bad manners.
We’re flying to Korea, not Japan- wrong Asian country.
I’m saying that in a backwater Buddhist temple or here, up here, at 32,000 feet, you’ve gotta realize you won’t have peace until you reconcile your recklessness, you hear?
I wanted to reach out and touch his hand to make sure that he was real.
You’re pretty smart for a cowboy.
I’m not smart, don’t know a damn thing. He lowered his Stetson over his eyes. Just a man who has to fly 32,000 feet to find his equilibrium, ‘course.
Bonsais and bad manners… I looked back over the clouds. Made sense up here, down there?