The trip from Southern California to Ahmedabad India is 29 hours, door to door….
Years ago, I had a job as the Cat Handler for a Broadway Tour . We flew someplace every few weeks. I was afraid of flying so I turned to Bloody Marys as medicine. I’m not a good drinker. The Cat Star, her Cat Understudy, and I and would all be cranky upon arrival.
Later, I “evolved” into prayer. I monitored all the potentially hazardous sounds of the plane and labored to convince God to keep things aloft.
Eventually I learned to surrender and relax. Still, 29 hours is a long time. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the flight.
Then I remembered an experience with Nipun Mehta.
Nipun visits our Spiritual Center about once a year. He generally gives a talk and holds a Q & A after the service. One year, the Q & A went something like this:
Congregant A: I’m having trouble in my marriage, what should I do?
Nipun: I would suggest you practice small acts of kindness.
Congregant B: I’ve been unemployed for six months. I’m desperate. Can you help?
Nipun: Yes, performing small acts of kindness will put you on the right path.
Congregant C: I’m concerned about the state of the world. How can we fix it?
Nipun: Small acts of kindness…..
There was a long pause, and then Nipun said: “Who else has a question so I can suggest small acts of kindness?”
Nipun blessed me with his kindness on that day. I began to see kindness as an antidote for everything – including air travel.
I practiced airplane kindness on short trips. When it was time to fly to Ahmedabad, I was ready.
In an earlier post I wrote about getting on the plane to India in 2013 — how it was like being sealed in a flying coffin….
This time, the coffin became a cloister.
Whereas once I would complain to anyone who would listen about the duration, the boredom, the discomfort, the crying babies – 29 hours of travel became an extended mindfulness practice. I lost the urge to focus on the cramped outer conditions. Instead, I focused on inner expansiveness. My work was to become a beneficial presence. I actively sought opportunities to assist with a heavy bag, a kind word, a smile, a compliment, and more.
The coffin became a cloister and complaints became kindness. I was free and completely happy to be on the plane for hours. Nipun was right. “Small Acts of Kindness” may be the answer to everything.
Reflections: Where can you turn complaints into kindness? If there is something “wrong” in your life, are you willing to try small acts of kindness as a solution? How can you be kinder to yourself?