Moments of travel with Dostoevsky and Elder Cleopa

I left home to go home.

*

There are so many cemeteries on the way from Fagaras to the airport. In the speed of the car, I think I see one with soldiers fallen during WWI. So many young people who could not be mourned by their unborn children… Still, they are my “parents.” I can mourn them. Or I can rejoice in them. I carry them with me, whether I want it or not. And I am most aware of it when I see the cross from my own tomb before my eyes. “The highest wisdom of human beings?” asked Elder Cleopa. He answered, “Death! Death! Death!”

*

“Only in the light of Dostoevsky’s fundamental artistic task […] can one begin to understand the profound organic cohesion, consistency and wholeness of Dostoevsky’s poetics.” Bakhtin is correct: there is consistency and wholeness in Dostoevsky’s work. Perhaps because of his dialogism as well, but for sure for one other reason: death is the one that gives consistency to his world. Everything in Dostoevsky’s writings can be understood as long as we begin with the end, the inevitable end of all of his characters; the inevitable end of all human beings. Dostoevsky’s world is cohesive inasmuch as it is governed by death. Paradoxically, some may say, but most naturally, I would say, it is this death that gives light, brilliance, to all human beings.

*

I got on the plane. There’s a lady next to me. She has two toddlers. “She will cry,” she says, pointing to her daughter. She’s probably one year old, and she’s so full of life. She has no inhibitions and makes sure that everyone around her is aware of her presence. Two seats in front of me, a young adult is playing on his phone. His earbuds in his ears, he’s completely closed to everyone around him. How many prayers does he carry with him? Do his parents’ thoughts embrace him on his journey?

*

A few years ago, I went to Fr. Roman Braga’s funeral. The day before the entombment, the church at the Dormition Monastery was full: clergy and people, all brought together by their love for Fr. Roman. His corps was laying in the middle of the church, facing the altar, and we were all singing: “Christ is Risen from the death, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life.”

*

The little girl fell asleep, and so my seat neighbor enjoys some peace and quiet. We all do.

We can be so separated, and still so united. Flying together to various “homes,” flying together to personal deaths. Still, each one of us is embraced by so many angels. Just like this girl, whose mother keeps her in her arms, without complaining for one moment, although she could not move for an hour. She only smiles, looking at her girl. Blessed are those whose arms are other people’s seatbelts. And blessed are those who have their seatbelts on for the moment of landing.

Moments in life with Lady Gaga

On the road again, on a bus… A beautiful, sunny day. Three people around me are sleeping. The only one awake is an older man, unmoved, his eyes looking into an absent horizon. And music.

So when I’m all choked up

But I can’t find the words

Every time we say goodbye

Baby, it hurts…

The man is the age of my dad; he just said goodbye to his son, most likely a graduate student. When his father got on the bus, the young man took his phone out of his pocket. “So soon?” I thought. Most likely, though, a coping mechanism: the young man had tears in his eyes.

When the sun goes down

And the band won’t play

I’ll always remember us this way.

Sunny today, but who knows how many storms around me. Does the band still play in the heart of the man who just left his son? He places his jacket on the seat next to him and looks straight ahead, unmoved.

Every time we say goodbye

Baby, it hurts…

I am going to a conference. He’s going home. Both of us have left a “home.”

But all I really know

You’re where I wanna go

The part of me that’s you will never die

Sunny today. Perhaps a storm tomorrow. But let us take our umbrellas and go through it. For truly, The part of me that’s you will never die.

Moments of life with Neil Diamond

IMG_1198.JPG

I have the feeling I forgot something in the hotel room. And I am bothered by the fact that I couldn’t check in for my flight. “We could not reserve seats for all passengers. You need to check in at the airport.” Bummer! I need to get to the airport fast, to solve the problem, so a little bit of stress takes a hold of me.

“Good morning!” The driver of the shuttle is in his 70s, the age of my dad. I’m not good enough with accents to realize which part of the US he is from, but there’s something warm in the song of his voice. “Sunday morning!” he says. “Easy drive today, we’ll be there in 20 minutes.”

“Did I really forget something in the hotel room?”

There are no other passengers in the shuttle. We make a U-turn, and the driver starts a CD. And my life changes:

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong

His voice is really warm, and he sings along the CD. There’s a force pulling me, too, and I can no longer hold it. Two strangers singing together in an airport shuttle:

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you

I forget that I forgot something in the hotel room:

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

“Do you like singing?” I ask him. “Oh, yeah! I used to run the corporate parties. I did the 45 minutes Elvis routine. I had a ball doing that.” He had some problems a few years ago with his vocal chord, and he had to stop.

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

I don’t know his name. He probably knows mine from the ticket. Still, it’s brother’s love.

It’s love, Brother Love say
Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show
Pack up the babies
And grab the old ladies
And everyone goes
‘Cause everyone knows
Brother Love’s show

We arrived at the airport, and I haven’t checked the time once. “A good day sir!” he says. “It’s Sunday.”

I forgot my phone charger in the hotel room.

Let’s fly! It’s a good day to die.