72. Of Soul Searching, Flying and Reading

“Of Soul Searching, Flying and Reading”

It’s the last week of summer vacation, hurrah. Or alas, as G would say.

A has been spending the last week or so in a state of deep relaxation. He’s narrowed down the stimming to a few things, which means he doesn’t want to expose himself to new stimuli unless he knows it won’t cause his zen to crumble. I respect that self awareness. We could all take a leaf from his book, knowing exactly how much we can take on, and being content with the somewhat reduced sphere before us.

I had a moment of self awareness myself last weekend. It was on a very crowded flight, the second of two I had taken that day, and I was feeling pretty done with human contact. Flying in the US is just..it stomps out of you any interest in being part of humanity. Whatever dubiously excellent reasons there may be to have turned it into the travesty it is now, it’s not even worth talking about as a tourist experience anymore. And that’s a whole other topic, but the canyon sized personal bubble many travelers seem to need here in no way dampens their propensity to violate the bubble of those around them. People don’t want to say hi, but they’ll take Sparky out of his pet bag and expect you to say hi. The non-American in me cannot add up these things so I don’t try.

There was a baby whomping my seat and I shut my eyes and slept through it because that’s how I escape appalling reality when I’m not on alert with A. Anyway, Baby did pretty well, all things considered, though even if he hadn’t, what are you going to do. At some point, he decided to make friends, and started groping my back. Normally I would have smiled and waved, but I didn’t have it in me, so here is my confession: I didn’t respond, and just fell back asleep.

Afterwards, I did chastise myself for my disinterest. Even factoring in the usual pre-trip prep I have to do for A, what would it have cost me to say hi? BAD RADHA. I shall sit in the naughty corner for a while, as long as I can read a book there.

Every time I feel all closed off and cave dwelling, I think of people like Syrian refugees or hurricane survivors or anyone in dreadful circumstances that have torn them from their certainties, and I always, always wonder–what’s happening to the special needs people? How are the autistic ones bearing up when their homes are no more? Is anyone giving the caregivers a break from the wretchedness of ritualistic behaviors in emergency shelters? Are they all still together? What happens to the kids who have food aversions? Families like ours already have so much to deal with. So I and my first world flying grumps really don’t add up to much, is what I meant to say.

I have been reading G’s summer reading project book, called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. It’s about a German girl in foster care during World War Two, and describes the experience of her foster parents hiding a young Jewish man in their basement. It’s a gripping and painful read, and I cannot stop thinking about it every time I put it down. There is a lot to say about this novel, but one facet that really stands out is how hard it is to do the right thing, and yet how easy. When we are faced with a reckoning of the conscience, what path do we choose? We don’t always choose the difficult, noble one, none of us do all of the time. Or we choose from a myriad of obligations, and pick the one that most benefits our own families. Who wouldn’t? Yet accounts like this narrative wake us up, slap us in the face, shame us into thinking again and again–am I that selfless? Civic minded? Unjaded? In the face of evil, would I call it out for what it is, or would I hedge and equivocate? In the wake of destruction and suffering, would I open my heart and home?

Would we hide someone in our basements?

I don’t even know how I placed a grumpy flight on par with such a solemn topic. You will have to excuse my mental leaps. They are the result of being out of my usual discipline of reading and writing regularly. It’s amazing how quickly brain rot can set in.

Here’s to the impending resumption of school. A will back me up. He cannot take anymore home improvements, and does not want to pretend for one more second that hanging out with us is cooler than classroom structure. At least one of my kids is excited! 😉









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