Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘flying’

On late travels.

In Travel, Writing on April 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

Scheduled on the late shuttle home last night and waiting for my flight at the bar and drinking a beer or two, I realized how generally annoyed I was with the noise and the people and garish lighting and the incessant televisions–sports, Fox News, Shopping Network–and the elbow to elbow experience of drunk travelers shouting over pounding music and just wanting to be home in bed at that moment, quiet and maybe drifting off with the New Yorker in my hands. Perhaps it was everyone too drunk and consequently annoying, or perhaps was me working in that direction but not yet there that everything and everyone seemed so very hyperbolic and frenetic.

The woman to my right leaned into me and asked the time. I looked at her and told her the time and her eyes, which I recall black like I understand Picasso’s eyes black, bore through me and out the back of my skull and in that instant I was reduced to something far from manhood and turned quickly away and back to my book, feeling very and profoundly inadequate, and for some reason embarrassed, to be entirely truthful. She turned from me, sensing I’m sure my instantaneous shortcomings, and to the gentleman at her right, asking a question of him and their ensuing din of politics and pop culture and business and law and travel washed over me, fixing my already stained mood.

The man to my left, a lawyer, I overhead him say, was reading his best friend’s manuscript, a novel, as he reported to the traveler on his left. This piqued my interest but not so much as to disrupt my mood of contemplative dissatisfaction, so I let it lay, as he let the manuscript lay. Out of the corner of my eye I saw that he was on page sixteen.

I fly this shuttle, Portland to Baltimore, every four or five weeks, a day trip, early morning, late night flights, and because of that cumulative mileage I frequently, as I did last night, get bumped up to business class where the drinks are free. This can be a challenge as the temptation of free alcohol is something I find particularly cruel. After my second Jack I was reminded of Hemingway’s admonition to compose drunk and edit sober.

My dismissive mood lifted as we flew over Manhattan and the luminescense of that island broken only by the black rectangle of Olmsted’s park, a perfect void extinguishing the light. A lovely sight indeed on a clean night and a reminder to always sit fuselage left when returning home.

And alas, the script, “Welcome Home,” suspended in the jetway claiming all challenges acceptable and filling me again with grace.

Friday Moleskine notes

In Philosophy, Thinkers, Travel on May 14, 2010 at 8:22 am
Journals & Notebooks, but mostly Moleskines

Journals & Notebooks, but mostly Moleskines

“There is more to life than increasing its speed” ~ Gandhi

“It is the only thing we can do, Klaus. I see no alternative. Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others.” ~ Etty Hilleson, on her way to her death, at age 29, in Auschwitz.

Dream of Life ~ Documentary on Patti Smith (see it)

Jim Harrison told Peter Phinny: concentrate on the writing. Get that right is all.

The four questions of Kant: ~ What can I know? ~What ought I to do? ~ What may I hope? ~What is man?

My project: sort according to themes? But what are the themes?

Life was a matter of opinion, according to Marcus Aurelius.

“At every moment, step by step, one must confront what one is thinking and saying with what one is doing, with what one is.” ~M. Foucault, 1983

Tuesday, August 29, Avignon, France: Got up around 9. Breakfast until 10:30, reading the International Herald Tribune, sipping coffee, pressed at table. Then we walk the streets, shopping, cafe hopping. Get caught in downpour and make way back to hotel in the afternoon, sprinting from awning to awning. Read then nap as the rain falls. Window is open. Head out at 5pm, golden light. People watch, have dinner after night falls, outside under lamps. Beers. Last night, lights out at 11:30.

“…a means of ignorning the spaces in between…”

In Philosophy, The Examined Life, The infinity of ideas, Thinkers, Travel, Writers on April 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm
A Volcano Over Iceland Makes a Philosophical Point

A Volcano Over Iceland Makes a Philosophical Point

Do you remember the Simon and Garfunkel tune, 59th St. Bridge Song–specifically the lyrics, Slow down you move too fast? Surely you do. A catchy tune. And the sentiment nice. We nod in agreement: Yes, we move too fast. Let’s slow down, smell the roses, or the coffee, whatever, savior the moment–nice little tag line to modern life. But, like the weather, everyone talks about it, and nobody does anything about it (often misattributed to Mark Twain).  That is, we all agree, we should relax a bit, but we don’t. Which is why the weather over Iceland for the past two weeks has been philosophically interesting. Nothing can be done about it, but there’s a lot of talking going on.

What if, Benjamin Button-like, the world were to go backward from this place? Planes stayed on the ground, television got fuzzy, then stopped altogether, Google, Facebook, Twitter all disappeared, followed by the internet. Down the drain. Silicon chips turn to dust. And so on. What if, like Thoreau at Walden, modern life were reduced in some fashion more, well, rudimentary?

Here’s what the sage at the pond’s edge said specifically: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”

A spewing volcano in Iceland has put a stop to trans-Atlantic flights. I pity the poor folks who are just now getting airborne in Europe and will be turning around. And I pity too, the companies that have lost so much money, the farmers who couldn’t get their products shipped, the grandparents who missed the birthday party, and the specialist who could not get her patient to the clinic. Untold dollars, Euros, Pounds lost. Lives and plans disrupted. It is all so very unfortunate. But it proves an interesting template for the imagination.

I sit in my over-stuffed chair and ponder the dogging question, the one about living more authentically. I was talking to my bookseller, Stuart, about this just yesterday. I had ordered a Simon Critchley book, the philosopher out of the UK. He asked what drew me to this book specifically. I answered in a round-about, half-baked fashion, that life as moderns is perhaps disjointed and that Critchley had worked on this some, that, as he–Critchley–said, philosophy arrises from disappointment. I wanted to learn more. Stewart got it, and just by talking about it a bit, I better understood what I was trying to get at. Which brings me back to the weather over Iceland.

Specifically, traveler Seth Stevenson watered the germ of this idea for me yesterday in an op-ed piece in the Times. It’s called Escape From the Jet Age and is a meditation on the grounded planes in Europe. It included this sentence: “Airplanes are a means of ignoring the spaces in between your point of origin and your destination.” Precisely. Now take this idea and blow it up. Explode it. My point of origin: birth. My destination: death. And the big question: What spaces between origin/birth and destination/death am I (unwittingly) ignoring? You get the idea, I hope. Modern life is a sprint and when we cross the finish line, there is the possibility that we will have no idea the path taken.  How do we mitigate that possibility, avoid committing that sin? That’s the heart of it, I think.