I love long plane rides. Time so generously pauses while traveling by plane. Caught in that peaceful interlude somewhere between the inhale of home and the exhale of destination, you board a plane in one location and it scurries across time zones, chasing the sun westward or doubling the watch’s pace heading east. When the door opens, you exit in another location with hardly a sense of the geography of in between, all within a vacuum of time.
Within that interlude comes a beautiful opportunity, the opportunity to reflect upon the life that one has been living, and perhaps more importantly upon the one that has yet to come. I don’t necessarily mean the practical nuts and bolts of life, although those things deserve attention as well. What this span of timelessness provides is the opportunity to gaze upon the way one has been living and the person who has been living that life. Perhaps there is enough time in the pause at 36,000 feet to deplane with intentions set upon being the person you were more meant to become.
So many of us on planes (or in life in general) miss this precious opportunity to reflect, often opting to redirect our gaze toward the device/screen/substance/distraction of our choosing. Although we can’t know for certain how self-aware other life forms may be, the capacity which humans have for self-reflection is perhaps our most valuable and precious gift. When used well, one can learn about oneself, experience the presence of one’s being, endeavor to change, and actually transform. No need to wait for our species to alter through millennia of genetic alterations. With curiosity and attention we actually can climb the ladder of our own personal evolution within our lifetime.
Time is much more swift than most of us realize, and opportunities not taken today often prove to be invitations wasted. The people who age best are those who have trained a consistent gaze inward, a curious eye toward self-understanding. This isn’t as self-serving as it may sound as nothing generates a life lived with generosity, love and appreciation better than the gradual enlightenment of ones own soul. Contrary to common belief, enlightenment is not an elusive state attained only by sages in a cave or monastery. Enlightenment is literally what it sounds like, the inward shining of a curious light (an enlightening) so that all of our beauty, our formation, our disfunction, our grasping, our fear, our strength, our capacity, our doubt, our love – the entirety of our wonderful complex selves – can be seen and known.
Unbeknownst to most of us, we remain veiled from ourselves remarkably well. As that flashlight of curiosity beams inward and we come to see ourselves more truly as we are, growth and transformation can’t help but occur. The pursuit of perfecting ourselves is nothing other than a fool’s errand. You are already good enough. Honestly. Through loving inward attention, however, there is always more to see, learn, unlearn, understand, metabolize, become and ultimately unbecome.
I’ve recently deplaned in Kathmandu, my sixth time here now over the past 4 years, where I do my best to contribute in service of Nepal Orphans Home, a wonderful organization full of beaming souls who have clearly and convincingly won my heart. Without this life of self-reflection and listening to my own truths as they have arisen, and allowing the inspiration of those truths to inform my movements, not only wouldn’t I be here, but I wouldn’t be the person whose heart is coming to understand the expanse of its own capacity, and willingly adheres to its desire to live its liberation.
As with the journey of airplane travel, the practice of self-reflection is a voyage of discovery, and with it you will consistently find you are neither where you left from nor to whence you’ll be arriving. I can’t think of a more worthy goal in life than navigating a path fully reflective of one’s own perfectly unique soul. The more sincere the effort taken to truly know yourself, the more your tread can’t help but fall on that beautiful path which is solely and singularly your own.