Dispatches From the Abyss…Travels with buhdy

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(Robyn)

(h/t to Magnifico for the title!)

Warning!!! This piece is highly personal and overly philosophical! If such is not your cup of tea…..flee now!

Not that it matters…But for those of you who may not know, I have a very bad back, as a result of a construction accident. I’ve already contacted a couple of chiropractors for back pain but I haven’t been to an appointment yet. I’m in constant pain and I can’t wait to get it sorted out. I have no idea if my back will ever go back to normal but I can only hope…it’s so painful. Which is why I lie around and blog all day. The less I lie around as flat as possible, the more pain I incur. I should probably contact a lawyer to look at my legal rights after this accident. Construction accidents in Brooklyn are covered by lawyers like the law office of Nicholas E. Tzaneteas. I may give them a call… After traveling and carrying luggage all day yesterday, I am in a lot of pain. I am not asking for sympathy or anything, but please realize that this is written through that filter. And help me pretend that that is why it sucks and makes no sense! But it was such a weird and instructive journey I feel the need to share some essentially pointless ramblings about my adventures yesterday.

The day dawned bright and clear….I dawned clear, but as usual…not too bright. Actually I only made one critical mistake, on what for me was a day that was a big frikkin deal. At least compared to my normal peaceful days lolling and blogging in sunny Mexico. Going on a journey is always exciting…and when you view journeys as the quintessential learning experiences of life, they are even more so! Journeys are like compressed life, since more experiences tend to occur in a short time. These experiences are rife with what the esssence of life is, a learning process. Especially when things go wrong. Since our biggest teachers should be our mistakes and tribulations….a journey where things go ‘wrong,’ if looked at with the right attitude, should not be viewed as traumatic, but as some of our greatest teachers.

What was my one critical mistake…..in this trivial but personally instructive journey that I am now inflicting on you? I didn’t google the airport. I assumed I knew where it was.

I try to live my life by principle. TRY of course being the key word, since I am of the human race and we tend to ‘fail’ a lot. Especially me. The overriding principle I try to live by is on plenty of bumperstickers and surfboards etc. No Fear. For many many years now I have tried to practice believing that on the strictly personal level, we live in a fairly benevolent universe, albeit one with a very odd sense of humor. But also and most important, one that is truly ruled by karma. It is not a philosophy, it’s a Law. If you practice love, the universe will bring you love. If you practice the opposite of love….fear, that is what will rule your life, that is what you will be brought. So…practicing love means eliminating as much fear as possible from your life.

But when you are traveling, and dependent on things outside of your control to turn out well, there is naturally a degree of fear…..or it’s little brother, anxiety, at least. Feeling you are in control cuts down on feelings of fear. That is why we like to be in control of our lives….or feel like we are, or create the illusion that we are, it cuts down on feeling afraid.

The list of anxieties:

I was determined of course, to leave early, thus cutting down on the main anxiety, the fear of missing the plane. This was a big deal, since it was my last official day in Mexico. I thought.

I had to drive a long way to the airport, what if the car broke down, what if there was an accident?

What if I had somehow gotten the dates wrong, since the universes sense of humor had included making the date I was supposed to leave Mexico completely indistinguishable on my visa?

Had I been added to the no-fly list? Would I have some sort of unspecified trouble at Customs? Paranoia for sure….except in Bush World. A recent story having to do with the Authoritehs reading what was on peoples laptops didn’t help. After all, if I were considered not a subversive….I would be very disappointed in myself!

And then just the normal travel stuff of connections etc. I am not afraid of flying, so that didn’t enter into it.

The sequence of events:

The car did fine, though it took a long time at the gas station to fill up etc. as they had pumps down and there was a very rare line. Starting off behind schedule.

There was an accident, just as I had feared…on a two lane highway through the countryside there is just nothing you can do but sit and wait. And fear, as the time ticks away. While sitting and waiting my mind had no distractions, so it could indulge even more in generating fears. This is when it occurred to me that my visa with the illegible date had been for 180 days….not six months. Since there are more than 180 days in six months and I had predicated my calculations on months….I was afraid I had illegally overstayed my visa.

The accident clears, but I am behind at least four hundred million slow trucks. All carrying precariously balanced loads of pipe or concrete….every time I check to make sure it is safe to pass and go to do so….there is a SUV barreling up on me to pass me in my sideview mirror. “Safe to pass” is a VERY subjective term in Mexico….which of course is what had lead to the accident in the first place!

At this point there is not a snowballs chance in hell I am going to get to the airport two hours before my flight. That does not scare me though, I have been through Mexican airport security before, it is slightly less thorough than American TSA practices. Basically just going through a metal detector…Heck you don’t even have to take off your shoes! I was also able to smuggle an oversized tube of toothpaste onto the plane! (later confiscated by the American authorities) Good thing terrorist don’t come from foreign lands where they are perhaps a tad less anal on security, but instead all board planes in America!

But alas…my critical error jumps up and bites me in the ass. Ass-uming that the airport was right outside Cabo san Lucas, when indeed it was another forty minutes away, right outside San Jose del Cabo, further down the coast. My carefully calculated time cushion was now completely deflated. I had two choices….as always, I could fly into a pointless panic. Or I could relax and try to release as much fear as possible…to trust that things would turn out ok. Trust of course, is a form of love.

So, I went up to the counter, after trying to park in the wrong place, and reparking,and then finding the correct terminal…. and confirmed that I had missed my flight.

But there was another one in an hour! And the great airline agent guy got me on that one and ……there was another connecting flight too! I would only be about an hour late to San Francisco.

Flying into Phoenix was a trip. I had never been there and the natural beauty of the mountains was amazing….and amazingly ruined by the incredibly ugly sprawl that has filled in around the natural beauty. But seconds later that was sort of nullified as an important theme when the plane landed, bounced five feet to the left and landed again, scaring the shit out of me…and everyone else! The worst/scariest landing I have ever experienced, I really am amazed that everything worked out ok and we got down safe.

Then the other part of Phoenix….going through customs/immigration. It was MUCH more strict than when I flew into SF last time….and so took much longer. But standing in line for so long let/forced me to relax about the whole thing and when I got up to the counter….an was immediately waved through despite my passport picture that makes me look like a terrorist and the fact I told them I had been in Mexico writing, amongst other things a serial novel about….whatever it is about. I wasn’t going to tell them I wrote a political blog!

So…loooooong wait for customs, and then a looooong time going through security again. When I finally got to where I could check on my flight…. the board said it had already departed. So I went to the nearest airport guy and he said….Run! And we ran down the jetway and literally stopped them as they were closing the door. Ah….sit and relax on the plane and regain the composure and let the fear and anxiety drain away and restore myself. I thought. Phoenix at night and the lighted version of the sprawl in the middle of what was once desert was even more fascinating and dismaying.

So I was pulling it back together…and then the plane dropped 100 or 1000 feet or something really scary like that. And for the next half hour or so we experienced the worst turbulence I have ever felt…so both the worst landing and the worst turbulence in one trip!

When I finally got into SF, of course my son wasn’t there to meet me, as I was late and had had no way and no time to try to call him, not having a functioning cell phone that would work in the US. When I called him on a pay phone, I got his voice mail. So I taxied in to my Dad’s house where I am staying…and he wasn’t there.

More fear and anxiety…more relaxing out of it. I went down to the corner…and for the first time in well over six months ate pizza and watched football. When I was done, I walked back up and just as I was ringing the doorbell and reviewing contingency plans of where to stay the night, he pulled up. All was well, everything turned out ok, except for my son is mad at me a little. Which is ok too as it gives him a position of superiority over his dad….which is a good thing for a twenty year old man to have, as he asserts himself in this tough hard world, where a young man needs all the confidence and edge he can get…to ward off the fear.

A truly wild day.

And the moral of this disjointed tale? Nothing reality based or evidence based. But every time I descended into fear, ‘bad’ things happened, things scared me into learning the lesson of not descending into fear. ‘Bad’ is in scare quotes, because if it ultimately teaches you a lesson, how can it be bad? Every time I crawled up out of the fear the situation improved dramatically and was resolved well. The universe through a lot at me and I weathered the storm. And I am a little more fearless every time that happens. Of course my personal fear or love didn’t cause these things to happen. Nobody knows what causes things to happen. Nobody really knows how life works. But…I just was able to (I think, in my opinion and belief system and the way I have learned to react to it by trial and error) USE this rather bizarre series of highly compressed events to teach myself a lesson. As we all have the chance to, every moment of every day. Because whatever else life may be, it is most definitely our teacher.

But as Robert Anton Wilson pointed out….no one makes it out of the class alive!

38 comments

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  1. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    FEAR!!!

  2. my back went out and caused me to pass out from the pain once,  I was out for two weeks on my back, finally after having quite enough of the pain, I meditated on the pain, visualized it as a white hot ball of light, then visualized it leaving my body via my skull.  Sure enough the pain began to move, my head became very hot, and the pain left as quickly as it had set in.  I was able to get up an walk around just five minutes later.

    I’m sure your scenario is much worse but the body/mind connection is important and if you really really focus, you should be able to change things to some degree.

  3. we’ve missed you.

  4. You know what that means: You’re not YELLING loud enough!

    Sounds like an interesting day!

  5. Congratulations on resisting the fear.

    I go to Cabo San Lucas every year – so I know that trip to the airport well. Last year, when it came time to return home, I took a shuttle to the airport and had to arrive really early due to their schedule. As I was waiting in line to check in, it dawned on me that I’d left my passport in the little safe in my room. I absolutely panicked. Eventually I talked to someone at the resort where I stay and she gave my passport to a taxi driver to bring to me. So I relaxed…still plenty of time. But then it dawned on me, my passport is in a car with a taxi driver!!! Who’s to say he will actually bring it to me? Panick again. But he did arrive, I made my flight and the only price I had to pay for being such an idiot was the 40 bucks it cost for the taxi. Thank you to the universe – and honest taxi drivers!  

  6. Fear: such an interesting teacher for me.  It is my radar for what I need to work on.  I try to welcome it…

    Speaking of flying:

    I don’t like to fly and since I don’t drink anymore, I no longer fly tipsy.  😉

    Having said that, I am now more cognizant when Firecrow teases me as we take off and land.  Such a brat!

    Peace Buhdy, and hope you feel better.

  7. the day i left recently on my road trip i left  five hours ahead of time to make sure i made the airport in time. On the way down I realised i had to pee badly, it was dark, about 6 in the morning, so I pulled the SUV over the side of the road, put the brake on, stepped out and realised the car was still moving, I had one leg on the road, one leg trying to find the brake, my legs were in splits, I am 74 years old, here i am trying to stop a Ford Explorer from driving into the ditch with one leg!  i did it.

    I got to the airport, 2 hours ahead of time, got the   seat I wanted,  got the connecting flight seat i wanted. Went through security, no problem, and relaxed. Wandered around, had a muffin and a coffee, went through into the secure area, walked down to the gata, always double check to make sure i am in the right place. Went back up the concourse, drank an orange juice, read the paper, criticised all the other people waiting, eavesdropping on their converstaions as they read USA Today. Wandered back to the gate, didn’t have a watch, pride myself on always knowing the time.

    It was empty, Noone there! the female agent behind the desk was giggling and saying you missed the flight, it left  ten minutes ago,. I had mis-read the departure time, it said 7:48, I read 7:58.

    She was totally manic, desperate to  get off duty,. Put me on the next flight in three hours, only seat available. The plane had left, everyone knowing i was not on it, they never took my bags off. I arrived in Miami five hours later, kuggage in late luggage area, and not one single person in the entire security apparatus seemed to realise that I was not where i was supposed to be. So much for security.

    Anyay, it all worked out fine, had a Haitain immigrant       for my taxi driver, learned all about the war between the Cubans and the Haitians in Little Haiti and Little Havana. Had a wonderful dinner in an Argentinian/Portugese outdoor cafe, staffed entirely by Italians. Went to sleep in utter luxury in my oasis bed and breakfast staffed totally by Argentinian cook, Columbian housekeeper, Chilean receptionist and spoke spanish for four days, had a wonderful time with English, Spanish, Italian and australian  guests and a private eye who was the brother of the gay female couople who owned it.  Viva America, love it!

    Wonderful experience.  Lesson: Fear heightens the experience.  Just enjoy, adrenaline makes everything taste better.

  8. Travel across the border was annoying. I had to have “special” papers stamped with a date and an ugly picture that were called “parole” papers. Despite the fact that these were the appropriate papers one needed when in the change of status process it was always Kafkaesque coming back. They would ask me the same questions over and over again. But you live in the US? What is your address in Canada? Why don’t you have an address in Canada? Do you have an address in the US? Why?

    When my mom came to visit they asked her what I did for a living, where I worked, and what my status was. Do people actually going across the border and announce terrorist intentions? Who knows.

    Even now with a green card, my series of questions depends entirely on the mood of the person asking.

    Sorry about your back.  

  9. I know the rush to the Mexican airport for the plane to the US craziness only too well.  Only the east and not the west coast of Mexico.

    What have I learned about this? Consider the entire day, all 25 hours of it, completely shot.  Leave ridiculously early.  Speak aloud to the traffic control angels and ask for help.  Speak aloud to the “Parking Diva” and ask for a space.  Speak aloud to “Whoever is in charge of this trip” and ask for a smooth journey.  Speak aloud to Chac and Kukulkan and give them mental offerings. Do all of this in both languages.  And if you have a secondary or tertiary language, use it, too.  The angels and divas and Chac and Kukulkan seem to like bilingual requests (they like the signs in the airports too).  And then, the crazy part: make believe that everything is running absolutely perfectly.

    This seems to work for me.  Maybe this reveals that I’m a superstitious moron.  Maybe not.  And when things go wrong (which rarely happens)?  I know immediately that my propitiatory ritual was flawed in some regard (lack of humility, lack of sincerity, rushing, lack of respect) and I promise the dieties to do a better job next time.

    Anyway, welcome back, and may your stay be a wonderful one, full of enjoyment and delight, comfort and ease.  

  10. in spite of the harrowing efforts. I know what you mean about those 100 or 1000 foot drops. As one who used to love roller coasters, those plane burps really do a number on the white knuckles and are not fun.

    Your description of Phoenix was perfect by the way… Such great mountains and then such a heinous concrete tangle and jungle beneath them. Tucson has sprawled too but it is a much better city and the mountains here are even nicer!

    That really was a great telling of your experience, Buhdy. I love what you wrote about your son. I hope you have a good visit with him and your Dad and all those you cross paths with up there.

    Yes indeed amigo, resist fear often and embrace your humor and curiosity.

  11. It was Murphy’s Law all the way!  Kudos!  But what is so good about what you wrote is that I think each of us can relate to the whole thing!  It or something like that has happened to each of us, I would wager.  As for example, when one is the most tired from lack of sleep, a horrendous day of work, isn’t that the day where everything else goes wrong at the same time?  Testing our strength, as it were!  Who knows!

    Despite all you’re here and safe!  

    I know many people with back and disk problems, Buhdy — not a happy way to live.  Used to be a Dr. in New York (Dr. Keim?), maybe, still is, who was quite successful (but that’s a long time ago).  But he had some very interesting exercises that could be done.  I know it might sound bizarre, but hanging from bars and stretching out the back might give some relief.  I don’t know, I just know I appreciate your pain and those that I know who have it.

  12. snapped me right out of a reality I’d been busy creating all day. A grand funk had descended. Then along you come with this wild ride and insights on what is real… and whooosh! The events of the day have passed (as it should be) and I am left with a sense of peace. Right smack in the now, not in the then.

    So thanks buhdy. I’m sorry about your back…take good care and keep up the visualization practice. It does work!  

  13. Enjoy your time in SF and say ‘hi’ to the gang when you all

    get together.

    • oculus on December 5, 2007 at 06:43
  14. you do write so well. Well other than the obvious snark – sounds like an average day trying to get anywhere in LA – one thought came to me.

    We Are Not In Control….damn it. Or accept it. I recommend the latter. Of course there were trucks going at a snails pace when you were in a hurry. Of course the plane had turbulance – the last thing you needed. These things seem to happen (at least to me) when I have actually taken the trouble to ‘plan’ which is rare.

    It’s like that car accident I was in 5 minutes after I said out loud “Finally I am free”. I needed to learn one more time I control shit.

    Sounds like you handled it the best possible way any one can – you let go.

    Now as for your back, I have a friend with the same condition – its the only time I have seen a man cry from pain. I have seen him lie in bed for a month at a time. It sucks Budhy and I wish there was something I could do for you but I know that what you are doing is probably all you can do – that and AVOID STRESS as that seems to contribute to the condition.

    I am sure you have tried everything. If you haven’t tried pilates I will buy you your first class. I ripped something between my shoulder blades and was in pain for years. After 6 months of pilated it never came back.

    And speaking of back, welcome,

  15. My life is spread out across three domains (okay spheres or something – not like I dominate any of them) – Europe, where I’m from, the U.S., where I live, and Mexico, where an important part of my work is. I reckon that’s not entirely accidental. I think I’ve always been a bit scared of striking root somewhere. I kinda like to be a bit indecisive about where exactly “home” is. That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of traveling. Not in the age of the shrub it doesn’t.

    • on December 5, 2007 at 08:38

    better than the “let fly list

                         PEACE! & a beer

                         sorry for the Looong day

                         ashes&dust!

    • pfiore8 on December 5, 2007 at 09:09

    i was so excited and felt “free” to go anywhere

    things have changed a bit since 2000, haven’t they?

    glad you’re safely back. and have we been at this for over 180 days already? i mean DD?

    and are you back for good?

  16. …though honestly I’d been picturing more the letters of Dalton Trumbo working in Mexico, with maybe a dash of Trotsky at the end:}  

    It’s always interesting at first for me, coming back to the US after even a modestly short bit away.  Would love to read your observations.  

  17. the last time I flew, ever, that great cosmic sump Phoenix drew our short flight back (at night).  I knew there were no U-turns en route from AZ to MT, and although I felt it occur, the stewardesses kept beaming those finishing school smiles… quite a great deal later, the pilot announced we were pulling back into Phoenix because of some little repair issue.  As we landed we could see four firetrucks with party lights flashing arrayed on the landing strip, could even see them all staring at us as we touched down, ready for trouble with everything and everyone else cleared way the heck away, and they had us walk quite a loooooooooooong way from the terminal.  Exiting the plane required dodging our way around sheets of liquid (!!!!!!!!!!!) issuing from somewhere then across the wing of the plane.  Probably hydraulic fuel, we then comprehended they expected us to land in flames.  

    The next morning (they refused to pay for hotels) we came the closest to a collision with another jumbo craft that I ever did – had it happened more slowly I think we could have identified complexions on the crossbound aircraft…

    As we suffer from PTSD it doesn’t look like we’ll either fly or enter the great states of FEAR again.  We love the little towns here, the people – the lack of fear is so refreshing, the friendliness of Mexicans enough to make you weep for relief.

    Remember it is designed to make you fear, up there.  Beware of television.  Godspeed on your way back to your new home.  And… you might want to get your FM3.

    Peace.

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