“I can’t even” was coined for me the past week. Between discovering that I had to replace the sewer line from my house to the city line (via water coursing from a floor drain, shower drain and toilet after doing a load of laundry), then driving all over the Southeast over the course of four days, then driving out to Charleston for a few days..phew.
Not the most relaxing week, but not wrenchingly difficult either. I’m weird in that I don’t mind driving. It’s one of the perks of being an introvert. I can drive and drive for hours, even without any music or audiobook going. I like the sense of going somewhere. Yes, after four days of driving at least five hours a day every day, I was ready for a break, but physically, it’s really no problem for me.
And when I feel like complaining about any of it, yes I may indulge a bit and gripe, but honestly, at this point in my life, given everything, I find it easier to shrug and try to be grateful instead. Old, collapsing and collapsed sewer line? Well, I need to be grateful that I have a house, period, and that I have the means to take care of a problem like that. Driving around and around? Be grateful for family, grateful for another kid graduating from college, grateful for my (so far) ridiculously good health and levels of stamina, grateful that I could homeschool and have this flexibility…just grateful. Given all the tragedy and sadness that courses across my Facebook feed every day, which is, in turn, only a fraction of the suffering that courses through the human family…I have nothing to complain about at this point, and much to be grateful for.
In other words, shut up about your First World Problems , self.
Speaking of such things, driving to Charleston yesterday, I passed a horrific accident scene – one of the worst I’ve ever seen. It was a tractor-trailer that had run off the road – wheels were everywhere, the cab was crushed and the trailer was destroyed, shrink-wrapped packs of plastic bottles spread out everywhere. The accident had occurred hours before, at 3 AM, and there were, according to news reports, three fatalities. There was a terrible accident in Huntsville a few days ago. A little boy in New York, diagnosed with cancer just in January, died this week.
I used to consider the lives of contemplatives and wonder how they could pray all day. The older I get, the less mysterious it is. Now it seems that there is not enough time in the day for all the prayer evoked by the great suffering that overshadows us as well as for the joy. The openness to hours of prayer becomes less mysterious as you grow to recognize the Mystery overseeing every hour.
Finished Decline and Fall…now I need to go back and listen to the In Our Time on it again. It was, as per Waugh, biting, dark and depressing. Evidently, I can’t get enough because I downloaded a sample of Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels…and enjoyed it. We’ll see.
Not feeling the Mad Men vibe this season. I keep thinking and hoping that maybe this half season will have to be treated like a novel, rewatched all in one sitting at which point it will make sense and be absorbing and deep. But I suspect that I’m being generous on that score. The cultural cues are lapsing into stereotypes and superficial signaling, character development has withered, and some of the best characters…Joan and Pete…are sorely neglected. Splitting this season in two was a big mistake on AMC’s part. I suspect that even if there’s some thrilling cliffhanger (count on it), much of the audience will lose interest in seeing how it all turns out by next year.
Ah….you want that In Our Time weekly report, right? Unfortunately, all that travel meant not as much exercise as usual, but let’s see….I did listen to the episode on relativity, of which I understood about 3 percent, mainly words like “with,” “Einstein” and “the.” (Even if I don’t grasp the details, what I do listen for is the meta-narrative about science and how understanding changes and develops over time. My favorite thing as a history major was always historiography, both as an undergraduate and graduate student.)
Oh, the episode on Benjamin Franklin was great – I always enjoy listening to Brits talk about Americans, anyway. I learned a lot.
Sometimes people wonder what I mean when I say that my 9-year old is a “natural unschooler.” Well, this is what I mean. This is the contents of the backpack he packed for himself for this 4-day trip. It amused me. It’s heavy.
See? Not hard to “teach” at all….
..and maybe not hard to see why neither he nor I are thinking about a return to a traditional classroom for him right now…
(The Biology is a college text he spied on a library $1 sale table..he bought it with his own money. He mostly likes the diagrams of animal innards. Add to what you see the “copy” of Stephens’ Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and the Yucatan he knew I have on my Kindle app and that he asked to start reading last night in the hotel (he managed about three pages, I think) – and there you have it.)
(One of my models – the Libertarian Homeschooler. Check out her Facebook page – she gives me my daily dose of inspiration. Help the child follow his own interests…judging from this collection, who knows what that might be tomorrow…)
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