Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Brief and Transitory Thing

Welcome, beautiful traveler. I greet you with a tale of taking contentment in small moments.

On a recent airline flight for business, I sat beside a beautiful woman who had the window seat. It was a one-stop flight for me, and when she deplaned I had another leg to go. So I took her spot with the innocent intention of being able to look out across the landscape when the plane rose again into broad, bright sky.

But -- in moving, I found myself embraced by the soft warmth that her body had left behind.

How close the two of us had been, for the forty-five minutes of that first flight. Her arm kept brushing mine, as she typed or reached across me to take her drink from the flight attendant. Though I read, and she worked on her laptop, and we spoke at most a few dozen words to one another, I nonetheless had a vivid awareness the whole time of how very near at hand she rested.

Life consists in beauty brought close. Some of it is ours to take hold of; some of it is for our senses alone to drink in.

I had a pleasant moment of surprise, on sitting back down in this vanished woman's body heat. It felt a bit as if a ghost of her remained in the seat with me, her hips and pelvis and thighs overlapping my own. Had I premeditated this, I think the experience might have bordered on creepy -- a sordid, vicarious usurpation of her lingering most private space. But because it was a surprise and not a goal, it felt fresh, and clean -- a wholesome, unshared echo of intimacy from someone who had been entirely pleasant and bright in her few words to me -- mostly apologies for inadvertantly crossing my space with her arm, or for shutting the window as I sat reading by its light.

Would she be aghast and indignant at my enjoyment of her fading personal heat in that chair? Or would she think it a natural extension of our close-set, warm, yet very limited interactions during the flight? Most likely the former; that is how our world works, with the self and the self-space carefully guarded against happenstance brushes with other selves and self-spaces.

Of course, she will never know, just as I will never know her name or what business took her from city to city on that day.

In an ideal world, I would love her anyway, and she would love me, and we would each love every other person we bumped into or glimpsed along the arcs through which our travels carried us.

But this being the world that it is, I will simply have to be happy with what has been granted me.

Thank you, goddess of love, for my tangent of intimacy with that unnamed, lovely woman, and for whatever similar ripples of happiness she sends out to others as she moves through this world.

Lovingly yours,

A devotee

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