Do you ever get the feeling that some people can’t see beyond their living room window?
We all know someone, likely related to us, who can’t see any of the world beyond their own experience. I have family in New England, for example, that remain largely unaware of any existence outside of New England. My grandmother’s reality was confined to her home, to a point that she actually experienced minor psychosis when removed from that environment and taken to a place with which she was not familiar. On a less extreme level, I think we’re all afflicted with this. While I make it a point to follow news from around the world and make my best attempts (although they turn out to be feeble ones) at keeping in contact with family across the country, I tend to be absorbed by what’s going on right now: what I’m writing, what I have to accomplish when I get into the office tomorrow, what Karen’s doing in the other room. The fire engine that was parked at the building across the street a little while ago, red emergency lights illuminating everything in a percussive strobe. The dishes that need washed. The trash that needs to be taken out.
While taking out that trash, I paused on the sidewalk to look up. I’m not sure why, I just did. The sky was just descending into twilight, and there was the white cloudy tail of an airplane sliding through it, miles high. Not one that was arriving at our local regional airport, but one moving past, floating over Virginia on its way to a point unknown to me, carrying other lives that are pondering all the things that you and I have pondered on similar flights: the family we’re meeting on the other end, the connecting flight we’re already missing, the kid that won’t stop kicking your seat from behind, looking down through the clouds and wondering what state or city you’re over at that moment. Suddenly, instead of my world ending at my apartment and the building across the street, I was part of something larger, an enormous community of individuals whose paths cross each other, albeit distantly at times, in a rather intricate dance. Suddenly, I am contemplating the reality behind the headlines that I read from around the globe, from reports of family difficulties hours away, from stories of trouble in the lives of my friends.
Suddenly, the trail of a plane crossing overhead takes me out of my confined little evening world, and I’m no longer an island. And then, as you read this, you’re part of my world and I’m part of yours, however briefly, and, as melodramatic as this may sound, we’re our brother’s keeper again.
Well, we never stopped being so. It just slipped our minds for a bit…