Not so long ago, when I was younger, I loved to travel. And, under the right circumstances, I still do. Not lately, however.
On my way back from NY last week, I ended up on what we used to call a “Milk Run” — Westchester to Philly to Phoenix to SNA. It wasn’t so bad, mainly because I have simply gotten skilled at the modern travel thing, which consists of a series of small details, performed ritually, and expressed pretty well in “Up in the Air” — no need to detail them now.
But, on the leg from Phoenix I had a very brief conversation with a guy, maybe my age, maybe a little younger (at what point does it become disconcerting when, in your daily travels, the people you meet are generally younger than yourself…), but in any case, this guy had been traveling – that is flying — twice each week for NINE YEARS.
His kids were 16 and 9. So, it was all they knew of him — that he was simply gone most of the time. For me this was a bit heartbreaking. But of course I have no right to even think that, since for all I really know it could be the best thing for everyone. But, my heartbreak was merely an extension of my own reality for these past five months. Last week my nine-year old had cried when I wasn’t going to make his Open House, which he and his class had worked so hard for. How many times had this guy I met experienced that kind of call? And how did he survive even the first one?
On another leg I met an extraordinary woman by the name of Jackie who was indeed a bit older than me, although not nearly as much as she thought, wherein she praised my attitude of suffering over these kinds of things, as well as the plan I shared with here wherein I would sacrifice the money, the professional challenges and accolades for some kind of Mosquito Coast-like radical family action, or series of actions. She said that her own father was absent, and remained so, even to this day. He was, however, a hard worker. She said he did a wonderful job of providing for the family in a monetary way, but was an absolute failure in terms of providing emotional nourishment. Or even archtypal nourishment, because who can argue the inherent and far-reaching power of the Father Figure, as it were? How many stories have we heard about young men wandering around, looking for the spiritual father? Um …Ulysses, The New Testament … Catcher in the Rye to name a few.
But, see, I can’t really tell if things really ARE different than when I was a kid. Everyone tells me so — and this is in the context of when I describe what it was like to grow up with my own father, who was an absolute failure in all efforts to support the family in a monetary way, but a complete success in every other. People tell me — they say things like “But the seventies was when this kind of thing was acceptable …” What kind of things, and who are these people, you might ask. Well, I’m mainly talking about giving up completely on what one can only describe as an unbalanced life led for the sake of much more money than would be needed if we lived a reasonable lifestyle. Giving this up in favor of something much, much less. Much smaller. But filled with time.
It’s a cliche’ and I’m sorry for it — but it must be said again, and this is where I actually have some experience on a few different levels regarding the purely materialistic life — it is absolute folly to work yourself half to death in order to buy things. There’s more to it than that, of course. In fact it’s actually CRIMINAL to buy things that you don’t need for the sake of buying them, when you could be giving your money away to someone who could actually do some good with it. But … hey, I can take that back for now, since I don’t want to offend the neighbors. Much.
Just had to get that off my mind. And anyway, it’s the 31st of May. I can’t go a month without writing some damn thing .. especially since this category is “Daily Writing” What a joke!