As a frequent traveler, I have come across many instances where my Buddhist training left me unprepared.  Of course one may heard of Buddhist monk who opened the emergency exit of an airplane just prior to take off for some fresh air. Also, Buddhist Monk Kenki Sato will saddle up for London 2012, s he’ll be representing Japan in the Olympics. And the biggest: Forbes reporter Clare O’Conner discovered a Buddhist monk is behind the 5 Hour energy drink phenomenon that has a 90%-near monopoly of the energy shot market.

Still, for this Buddhist, traveling represents some of the most trying experiences for those seeking true patience.  For instance, Friday the 13th, I spent approximately three (3) hours in an American Airline plane awaiting gate clearance at Chicago – Ohare International Airport. Upon departure, I spent another two hours in a different American Airline plane.

As flights were delayed at both O’Hare following sudden thunderstorms, I spent much of the time listening to music and reminding myself of living in the moment.  But I have to tell you, living on a stuck plane for nearly five (5) hours total tests any traveler’s patience.  If personally believe that even if the Saints had patience, one of them would have killed for it.

Imagine sitting on a completely full flight, in one position, looking straight ahead … for five (5) hours. Can’t speed up, can’t turn left and can’t turn right.  But the kudigraw goes to the woman in seat ‘27 A’ (meaning right behind me) who whips out her iPhone and proceeds to discuss her menstrual flow with her daughter.  Seriously, if I had a gun, I would have shot her … or maybe myself or both of us.

I know … I know … maybe she didn’t think her conversations traveled that far, but in fricking packed plane, waiting several hours, the ripple of anything other than flight crew is going receive fine tuning by any and all passengers. After a few minutes, I wanted to turn around and query:

“Is there any reason why I must be part of this conversation?”

In the span of ten years of travel, I have heard some strange stuff: from the time a passenger called his wife via an inflight phone to say he was calling inflight on an inflight phone. What the hell is it with these people? And why do airlines allow us (i.e., the nutso passengers) to board the plane with cell phones? So think about it, TSA, in some cases, will go so far as to not let you bring a bottle of water on a plane, but they’ll let you bring a cell phone that can potentially disrupt navigation systems?

That thought reminds me of the scene from The West Wing, Season One “Pilot:”

The shades are drawn and many of the passengers are sleeping, except TOBY

ZIEGLER, who is busy typing on his laptop.


“We ask at this time that you turn off all electronic devices, stow your tray tables and return your setbacks to the full and upright position. We will be landing shortly at Washington-Dulles Airport.”


[approaches Toby] “Sir, I need you to turn off your computer.”


“I’m just about done.”


“I need you to turn off your laptop, sir. It interferes with our navigational systems.”


“You know when you guys say that, it sounds ridiculous to most people, right?”



Another Flight Attendant approaches.


“Mr. Ziegler? A message was just patched up to the cockpit for you. I’m not sure I’ve got it right. POTUS in a bicycle accident?”


[stops typing and looks up] “You got it right.” [reaches for his cell phone]


“You can’t use your phone until we land, sir.”


“We’re flying in a Lockheed eagle series L-1011. It came off the line 20 months ago and carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?”


“You can call when we land, sir.”


[calling as she walks away] “Also, I never got my peanuts.”

Sorry to say, there’s no magic answers when dealing with all this crap. Accept it – that some days being in the ‘moment,’ require some extra assistance. Recently I acquired a set of Westone 4r earphones. So when faced with the biggest challenges, sometimes it’s simply easier to pull out my ‘Westie 4s’ and drown out the world with some peaceful music.

Peace to all … even to the lady in seat ‘27 A.’