Was in Chicago earlier this week. Gave a talk at a conference. Had a geographically-challenged flight crew on the trip back. Just before we took off, a ditsy flight attendant announced, "This is Flight 622 bound for Washington-Dulles."
Lots of clucking going on back in coach.
"Oh, tee hee, I'm sorry. This flight is bound for Washington-Reagan National."
When we landed at National, the pilot got on and joyfully spoke over the loud speaker (and I quote): "Welcome to Dulles-International Airport."
Yeah, whatever. I think everyone needed to get off that plane and simply go home.
Gray, damp cold evening here in the northern Virginia woods. Relentless rain. Full moon tonight hidden by clouds so heavy with weather. Am packing so I can go south to the beach tomorrow. Around the corner, down the hall from my office, the washing machine is grumbling its way through a spin cycle, and the dryer squeeks a little as it turns cheerfully, those square dryer sheets making the clothes smell fresh.
I like the beach most any time, but especially in the fall and winter. It feels different, not humid and greasy. It feels its opposite, as every natural thing is apt to do. And you can, as the Zen Dudes say, find an answer in the sound of water. And there are so few people there you have the chance to simply walk along some very long strand of sand and think.
This has been a day of quotes too. Read one attributed to the classical pianist Alfred Brendel:
"I like the fact that 'listen' is an anagram of 'silent'. Silence is not something that is there before the music begins and after it stops. It is the essence of the music itself, the vital ingredient that makes it possible for the music to exist at all."
Writers listen too. There is music in conversation if we take time to listen, the same way a painting talks to us if it is pondered long enough. Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."
And another, from an interview with Jack Nicholson, who, at almost 70, is quoted in The Washington Post: "Where there's clarity, there is no choice; where there is choice, there is misery." That Zen sentence is from The Monkees' movie Head, the then-avant-garde screenplay Nicholson wrote back in 1968, just before he grabbed the tail of a comet called Easy Rider.
So I will make a turkey sandwich on pita bread in the a.m., throw a couple of bottles of water in the bag, and head south eight hours, stopping to contemplate the journey, in air that smells like ocean.
Georges Seurat, View of Fort Samson, Grandcamp, 1885 (130 Kb); Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 32 in; The Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Formerly Collection of Bernhard Koehler, Berlin