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The Undersea World of Deepak Chopra

Somewhere between coasts and very high up in the sky, the kid takes a tumble. I mistake her at first for a little boy, not much older than a year and too small for a seat but too large and rambunctious for an infant carrier. Her mother, who has inexplicably found the time to become impregnated again, has her hands full. There isn’t an open space on the flight and she’s forced to alternate between sitting with the child on her lap and standing in the aisle, allowing the little girl to occupy the seat. It’s shortly after changing to the latter that disaster strikes, and just after I’ve switched my eyes from the undersea creatures on the little tyke’s video machine to the less interesting Sundance Channel Mike Myers/Deepak Chopra comedy-meets-mysticism broadcast on my own. It all happens so fast, out of the corner of my eye and just a few feet away. I’m aware of the child standing and the mother being distracted for a passing moment, and then: THUNK! She tilts over like a poorly-rooted tree and slams her curly-headed bean squarely on the side of my outer armrest.

I’ve never been a mother, but my empathy for the woman feels almost complete. Her response -“shit! – and the tone in which it’s delivered speak volumes. Frightened, frustrated, caring and overwhelmed, she gathers the child in her arms before the girl even has the time to gasp for air, process the scare and pain, and commence to wailing. I myself am fairly shaken as it seems my armrest is still vibrating from the blow like a resonating tuning fork. She holds the kid to her breast, cupping and feeling the back of her head for an as yet emerging lump, and after a few more moments the strong crying begins. Shortly after, she carries her to the back of the plane to find an ice pack. I scan the expressions of surrounding passengers, surprised to encounter mostly indifference or obliviousness. Still, it wasn’t their armrest Junior chose to ring like a muscle-bound boyfriend swinging a sledgehammer and winning a stuffed animal for his sweetie at the state fair. Had it been an elderly person, the result would have been calamitous and the entire plane aware. But ten minutes later both mother and child return, tears dried and order seemingly restored. I’m apparently still more upset than the little girl having witnessed her direct head-bash, but in child time months have passed and ice has been applied.

She goes back to her video – real life sea urchins spliced in with cute google-eyed crab puppets – and I to my Mike Myers meets Deepak Chopra “Iconoclasts” program. Myers is explaining how his quest to understand the meaning of existence took hold shortly after losing his father in 1991 and that it involved the deeply moving realization that comedy and enlightenment exist innately on the same plane. The show was taped when Mike was in the middle of making “The Love Guru” and, unfortunately, this epiphany did not save the film from being a colossal piece of shit. Deepak nods in apparent understanding and then adds some quote-worthy phrase like “we’re not human-doings or human-tryings, we’re human beings.” Myers nods enthusiastically – “right .. right.” I glance over at the small human across from me, now completely over her recent catastrophe, enjoying her juice and liquid crystal sea creature display. Whatever Mike’s trying to get at and Deepak thinks he knows are worlds away from her conscious concern. I smile, Mom smiles back, and life goes on.

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