It was an unusually unlucky day.
My flight from Whitehorse to Vancouver was meant to start around 8 am, but because the little airport wasn’t able to handle so many passengers (the entire conference seemed to be leaving at the same time), we were delayed by an hour.
As a result, I missed my connecting flight to Calgary, and the earliest they could give me another one was 1 pm.
Then, when I got to Calgary, it was 3.30 and the shuttle that was meant to take me to Banff had already departed with the other journalists. The next public transport was at 5 pm. The PR booked me on that, but it was late as well, and so they could not drop me directly to the hotel I wanted, and I had to change shuttles in Banff.
Then, since my hotel was the furthest, I was the last to be dropped off. As a result, I reached the hotel after almost 12 hours of travel – for something that should have just taken me about four or five hours had I been on a direct flight.
I was thinking about this unexpected turn of events at Calgary airport. It was about 5 pm, and I was tired and hungry. I hadn’t slept much the previous night due to a late-night event. My patience was wearing thin; I was homesick; I was cold and lonely. Despite all the encouragement I kept whispering to myself on how ‘whatever that happens is for the best’, I just couldn’t see the bright side of things. And so there, standing by the side of the road waiting for the delayed public shuttle to take me to Banff, I put my head down on my baggage trolley and began to cry. And I didn’t stop even after getting on, finding a seat, and opening my copy of Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.
This book had been lying in my backpack for the entire trip to Canada, but I just hadn’t had the time to read it. Through teary eyes, I kept reading, looking up occasionally at the scenery around me – pretty homes, ski slopes, and later lush farms and ranches. As the book went on, however, something shifted inside me. Siddhartha had reached the river; he had found his son; he had got trapped in the emotional maya of this existence. I identified so much with him at that moment – yearning for my kids, missing them, praying for their wellbeing. Then Siddhartha found the answer to all his seeking. He saw the relentless churning of life and death; misery and joy; attachment and letting go. He became a Buddha. My tears continued to flow, but oh, my heart heaved in a deep connection.
And I then looked up.
The farms had given way to the Rocky Mountains. A wall of grey interspersed with spots of lush green. Suddenly a lake appeared. And as I looked at the shimmering blue-grey water, gentle waves dancing in the sunlight, I caught my own reflection looking back at me, teary eyed, in the sun-bathed bus window.
It was an epiphany.
I was looking the most breathtaking bounty of nature – and SEEING MYSELF.
The beauty, the joy, the expanse, the vastness, the peace, the silence, the ONENESS, was all out there – and it was in me. It WAS me. I am Aekta, after all. I am oneness.
And that’s what Siddhartha realized right then, when I put my head back down into the book.
The rest of the journey and evening was a burst of radiance for me. It all fell in place. Why my first flight was late. Why I missed the connecting flight. Why I had to miss the shuttle with other journalists on it. Why I hadn’t read this book all those days though I’d brought it along.
I was meant to read it alone, at the end of my tether, hungry, bone-weary, on a bus from Calgary to Banff on a summer evening.
I was meant to lose myself in despair before I could be found. I had to let go to let God.
It was a hard day. But it was a necessary journey.