Yesterday started like many another: I woke up. Normally I am grateful I’m on the right side of the ground, count up the hours I slept peacefully, pause to recall and explore my dreams, evaluate any disturbances, and inquire into my feeling state. Then I ritually discuss mutual inquiry with my husband. At which point my Reubenesque cat, Leila, hurls herself directly into my face purring at full throttle, hoping to fill her daily quota, an insatiably desperate need for love and affection. Except on this morning I skipped the gratitude for having another opportunity and privilege of being alive, climbed over my palpable anxiety, and went straight to how many hours of sleep I had accrued (an interrupted eight; there had been a cat fight inside my house, which sounded more like children being tortured).
Deciding I had enough sleep, I detached my cat from my face and half-heartedly asked my husband how he had slept as I popped out of bed and headed for the lieu (French word for bathroom). Looking back, I can see I had fed the wrong wolf—and off I went, spiraling towards the vortex. I raced to beat the clock; we had to be at the airport by 8am, it was 6:20, and I was standing there in my jammies machinating over whether or not the heavy rain would delay our flight. Thundershowers were expected. I asked my husband if planes could fly through thunder. He patted me on the head and said yes, and told me to get in the shower. I was unconvinced. While I showered I imagined our plane being tossed into oblivion amidst lightning and thunder, spat into the abyss. I reached for the conditioner and decided I could not go to LA with dry ends. Vanity clearly trumped paranoia. But not for long.
The plane was on time. A good augur, I decided. I stowed my bag overhead, happy there was room. Which reminded me, I had heard that during 911 most of the planes that went down were not full, oddly; that they were less than 60% capacity. I looked behind me at all the empty seats; I was the first one on the plane. Right, duh, sit down, other people are getting on, and anyway God’s not going to kill you and David at the same time, it’s not possible that you both have the exact same exit strategy. Some relief came over me. Then I thought, Right, my girlfriend died on a plane and my other girlfriend’s husband, so the odds of me dying on a plane are about…well they’re astronomical. Right? And, wait a minute, does God selectively kill people. What is that? Just then a priest walked past me. Holy shit. Is that a sign? That has to be a good thing—who has ever heard of someone who had a dear friend and intimately knew other people who died on a plane, dying on a plane with a priest on board? That’s just not possible, not to mention freakishly unlikely. Isn’t it? I didn’t want to know and I had never heard of that, so I was convinced—no one. Until the young Middle Eastern woman wearing a turban walked past my seat. I broke out into a sweat. Okay Maryanne; men, not fourteen-year-old girls, are terrorists, and no one is going to take down a plane going from San Francisco to LA. What? Suddenly Oscars have become a terrorist target? Unless, unless this is some new plot. SHUT…the F%^& up and drink your tea. “Welcome aboard flight 929 to Los Angeles.” I quickly add up the numbers to see what they are numerologically and then stop myself. Here’s the deal, sweetie, I gently but firmly say to myself, lovingly as I can, hoping to interrupt what how now become completely paranoid and insane behavior. Have you noticed, Maryanne my love, that every time you get on an airplane some part of you (or part of your brain, more specifically; let’s call it Deathcon 5), searches for any warning that the plane will go down, and it’s never happened?
I liked that. My inner parent is great. I love her. She is so sound and logical without being dismissive. I calmed right down. Anyway, what are you going to do, never get on a plane? Live your life trying to dodge every Tom, Dick and terrorist attack lookalike? No, that’s silly. God is not some guy in the sky. We know that. God is the great Divine and you are not this little body, you are a big, magnificent spirit on a purpose-filled mission, and when it’s your time, it’s your time. That’s all. I eased back into the seat, comforted by the resounding truth of my words, looked over at my husband who had little idea of the mini-drama series that had just gone down inside my head. I asked him for my book, one my girlfriend insisted I read (she wasn’t the kind to insist on anything). It was a modern-day story of Mary Magdalene; a few pages in, my eyes filled with tears as I was reminded from the inside out why I am here. To help revive the divine feminine and assist in some way to help end suffering.
On this day I would start with me helping myself! I remembered in that moment how far I had come from not even being able to set foot on a plane many years ago, or even leave my house, as I suffered from the worst kind of anxiety disorder. Never having taken medication, I struggled and fought to heal myself and today I sat, still and calm, taking a moment to praise myself for the progress I have made. I turned my head towards the window and tried to stop the tears from spilling down my face. I could not. I shared some of my experience with my husband who in reply handed me a book he had been reading as we took off. The passage read: “There is no evil, because God is ALL in ALL. There cannot be anything beyond God. No two contradictory forces such as good and evil can exist in the same universe, if one is omnipresent and all powerful. Consequently there is no such condition or force called evil, as opposed to good, because God is omnipresent. Why then let your mind be forced into the error-thought by admitting error and into the fear-thought by admitting veil. If there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so, why then think of such things as evil, mortality, disease and death?” I smiled and cried unashamed. If I was going to die, I was going to die next to the most amazing person I have ever known (besides my son), with God in my heart, one of the luckiest people alive.
I am reminded again of the story about a Shaman who used to gather the children of the village each new moon to tell the story of the dark and white wolf. It is said that the dark and white wolf have battled since the beginning; the dark wolf grows strong when he is fed fear, lies, greed, dishonesty, and the like. The white wolf grows stronger with love, compassion, truth and care. The children would squeal with delight as he would recount their battles, and at the end of the story beg, “Tell us who won the fight, grandfather?” to which he would reply, “Whichever one you feed, my child!” Free will is indeed the final answer.