Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rotten Brains

Truth is I feel out of sorts. Extended time away from home, out of routine, feels chaotic. It is lovely to visit family we've missed. We've enjoyed some tasty meals, swimming at the pool, a day's adventure at the water park, movies, playing games on the Wii, putting puzzles together, playing Mexican dominos and other fun, but it's beginning to feel like I ate ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner- too much excess. We'll go home ready to work again which is what vacation should help you do. I also hope this will be our last super long trip home. Perhaps next year we'll at least live in the same country and not have so far to travel.

I've heard of people who have never left the county in which they were born. I've heard of people who have never been separated from their husband or wife for more than a day. I've heard of people who never vary their routines for years at a time. I am not one of those people, but I think there might be fewer of them left in the world today. I think there is somehting worthy of seeking adventure nearer to home though.

I prefer stillness and yet I open myself up to chaos because I return to visit everyone back home. I can't fathom not going, but it feels like too much- too much living out of a suitcase, too much food, too many other people. I feel frustrated with the day being about this and that with no quiet time and no solitude for days on end.

We had dinner on the road tonight. We stopped at Cracker Barrel. The fireplace had a large hearth with a swivel arm on each side, each arm had a cooking pot. It looked primitive and simple. I sat there thinking of how complicated everything has become- from a fire to prepare food to a huge restaurant chain feeding us as if we were visiting Grandma's house. I'd like to be in a house with just a fire, no TV, just prepare food, no places to go, and a long porch with just rocking chairs to rock and maybe a conversation to have. I don't think I am alone considering the success of Cracker Barrel, but I think, sadly, that the Cracker Barrel may be as close as most of us will get. No one seems to live quietly anymore- TVs are everywhere, fake and fast food has taken over, no one bakes their own cakes, fake ice cream is served all summer, there is no ice cream bucket to crank in the driveway, there is no intergenerational games of Hearts and Spades, there is no sitting with hours on end before you in a quiet attic full of treasures to explore. I guess I am thinking of some of my favorite childhood summers.

We spent the weekend at the beach but we barely saw the beach. Instead we were swimming in pools- pools with fountains, pools with slides, pools with other kids, and pools with waves- but still a pool is fake. The fakes have come to replace the real. The pool is clean and safe. The kids loved playing Wii Sports. I can see the attraction, it is fake sports but only better- no equipment to buy or haul, enough players, fair rules and play across the board, no sweat, no sunstroke, no injuries, no pain, no meltdowns, no traveling to or from, and you can go from the baseball diamond to the boxing ring in a few minutes. Real things are being replaced by fake protected experiences whether it be the beach or a sport with a pool or a video game. No one seems to mind, but I keep thinking about it- as a tragedy.

The Moose, acknowledging that he had watched a lot of TV a few days back, asked me, "How do you undo rotting your brains out?" He was referring to my oft repeated phrase that, "TV will rot your brains out." It amused me that his concern hit him after his binge but at least after the fact he was worried about his brains, not unlike us grown ups who eat the fudge sundae and then wonder how we'll get rid of it. The remedy for the brain rot though? "Read a book," I suggested. I'd venture to recommend going without the TV for a month, cooking every meal from scratch to include eating less meat and making a cake, establishing a daily routine, and pursuing activities that do not include gadgets might be a step toward less brain rot, but that is just a thought or perhaps, more accurately, just a fantasy. To think, I could go to Fantasy Island and ask for an authentic experience and end up with a shark bite, cooking for twenty people for weeks on end, and organizing a barn raising, to cure me of it. Where is "de plane, de plane?"

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