The Trip Back East: July 15,2011

Tomorrow we head to the east coast for two weeks, all four of us and our five diagnosed disorders. Why are we doing this? Are we crazy? Shouldn’t we stay home where it’s safe and put that money we’re about to spend toward a car that might be less inclined to stall on Interstate 5 on the bridge over Lake Shasta where there are no shoulders and semi trucks going 70 mph trying to change lanes before they reduce us to a tangled mess of destruction?
Why are we doing it? Oh, one can give normal sounding answers to that: we’re visiting places where we used to live, we’re showing the kids important pieces of American history. It’s very educational and all. Families go on trips. It’s what they do. Right?
But why are we doing it, really? I’m sorry, but when a poet marries a philosopher all illusions of normalacy might as well just move next door. This morning Silas told me that he dreamed he was sitting in a circle with a group of people, and he asked them all if they had considered the possibility that they were all in a dream. And I’m finding myself thinking about the YouTube video Peter and Joseph are watching right now. It’s a video game walk through. Basically you watch someone else playing the game and listen to their hints and suggestions. This one my boys are waching right now is of a man who has set out to walk his character to the very edge of the video game world he is in. It’s like an epic journey. People have sent in comments to him that he isn’t likely to get there, or it could take years. He says they’re probably right. But he’s going to try anyway. And he’ll probably have thousands of subscribers before he’s done. He’s just some guy sitting in his house recording a possibly hopeless attempt to walk to the end of a video game world. Meaningless, right? It’s just a video game. He should go out and mow the lawn.
And yet . . . should he mow his lawn? The grass will just grow again, and again and again, and where will that have gotten him in the end? Where’s the meaning in that? What gives our lives meaning? Where does the heart of it lie?
The Langley family is not just taking a vacation. No. We are heaving anchor and sailing off into the unknown with the wind in our sails. Because that’s what humans do. Or it’s what we want to do, anyway. Some of us do it in real boats on real seas. Some of us do it on family vacations. Some of us do it at the computer, or on paper, or while cooking, or any number of other ways. But there is certainly something in us that wants “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” as Tennyson put it.
Not yield to what, you ask? Well, not yield to the notion that mowing the lawn is the most important thing we could do, that washing the dishes, and then getting them dirty, and then washing them again, is all that life is about, that there isn’t something out there that we should be finding, or learning, no epiphanies or revelations right around the next corner.
And so, whether it’s silly and hopeless, or wonderful and brave, the Langleys are heading around the corner.


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