We Are Inevitable

It's 4:00AM and I'm hopping on a train to catch a 7:20AM flight. The sun is still sleeping. As I'm lugging my criminally overstuffed luggage to the EL, I wonder, "Why am I leaving so early?" The answer is both simple and complicated. First, it takes an hour and a half to get from Wrigleyville to Midway airport by train. Second, I am my father's son.

My Dad's voice rings in my ear, "You have to be at airport two hours before takeoff." It's 5:30AM and I'm sitting out side my terminal waiting. Just waiting. I'm a full-length feature film away from boarding. It's me and a chair. I am the only person at the terminal.

The reach of a parent extends well beyond the years spent living under their roof. Leaving aside the larger issue of character and the immensely complex relationship between biology, heredity, and environment, my father is responsible for the most basic ways I engage the world. Arriving two hours before my flight is the only way I've ever known. There's no value judgement here. I'm not saying he was right or wrong. It just never occurred to me that airport arrival times were up for grabs. You just arrived two hours beforehand. End of story.

There are dozens of things that I've only ever known how to do because my father did them that way. When I microwave frozen peas, I put a little butter and some water in and cook for two minutes. That's how peas are made. I lay out the things I will need for tomorrow before I go to bed. I check my oil every time I get gas. This is how I understand the world. I see from the perspective of a son who was raised by a particular man. By no means does this stop with parenting. I am a child of a particular place and time.

As a spend more and more time with domesticated, interesting people, I start finding new ways to cook, do, and live. Simultaneously, I discover the roots of life-long behaviors. My goal is not to pull the roots to plant new ones, but understand the peculiarities of my little roots and how they make their way through the dirt.

I am fascinated by what made us the way the way we are, how we cope, why we change, and--most importantly--why we don't. As I change, I change in very methodical ways. It's visible a mile away. Similarly, when I'm entrenched in had habits, I know why. I suspect humans aren't nearly as mysterious as we imagine. Hair is blown back by strong winds. It's not supernatural. The more I get to know a person, the more I understand every twitch, giggle, and neurosis. When I understand, I cannot blame. How could I? How could anyone?

My suspicion is that I will continue to arrive two hours early for my flights. Now I know why.    

More and more I'm bullied by an idea: We are inevitable. Like a Greek tragedy, our hero is faced with an unpredictable and inevitable end. I'm not suggesting that we are slaves, but you can plainly see the man I am in the boy I was.

No comments :

Post a Comment