“Are you a teacher?” Question asked on a flight back from a weekend Girl’s Trip to Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday. On my right hand side sat my friend Andrea and then to my left sat a younger guy who had his head resting on his arms while I got myself situated. Andrea and I talked for a few minutes while taxiing off and then she settled into a movie while I pulled out the book I’ve been trying to work through.
When I read, I READ. Words are so very powerful and it feels like I am constantly writing quotes or ideas from books down to remember for later. I have a small black notebook that I write these down because there’s a tugging that pulls me to write, if I don’t I feel as if I’ve forgotten something and it will drive me bananas. My parents are avid readers and writers, my Mom is a published poet (I’ll say it even though she dismisses that fact), and my Dad is eloquent in his letters, sermons for volunteering and his short verses he sends in packages (which I always look forward to). But the power, value and knowledge that written word could give us was sought after in my family. When I was younger and going through hard times with bullies, friendships and feelings of isolation while being sick and seeing doctor after doctor I sought solace in books. My vivid imagination came into play because I could literally leave my circumstances and be transported to other worlds with new people, ideas, and adventures. Books were my friends, escape and savior. Which is why I always used weird words or phrases that my friends would always laugh at and roll their eyes.
So I whip out my book, which is thick, heavy and pretty intimidating, and start the process. The thing is, this book takes forever to read because every other line introduces subjects, facts, topics that are new or heady or something I need to ponder and I was whipping back and forth from my notebook to my book constantly.
My seatmate next to me awoke from his nap and started off the conversation with asking about my shoes and I tried not to roll my eyes all the way back into my head because it was obvious after a couple of questions he was trying to flirt and I was just not at all in the mood (sorry). Then he goes into this.
“Why are you underlining and writing stuff down? Are you studying for something?” No, and then “Are you a teacher?” No. I explained that I love reading, whether it is fiction or non-fiction and that whenever something strikes a chord I usually write it down or underline it so that I can think about it later. Have you ever read a sentence that you can’t get out of your mind or that resonated so much with you that you felt a light go off inside you?
He looked at me like I was crazy. Tried a different tactic.
“So this book is about the author’s deduction that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition and that difference unites us. After interviewing hundreds of families who are all conceived to be different (autism, deafness, prodigies, criminals, etc), he delves into the question – to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent should they help them become their best selves. Also, with/without the struggles that those individuals endured would they have given them up since it made them who they are and to what extent did they become who are they are now because of those said struggles, alienations, discriminations, etc?
So, lots to think about. Paragraphs I have to read over and over. Concepts I might not think about on a regular basis and stories that keep breaking my heart over and over and triumphs that are exhilarating to read for the people involved.
I’m fascinated by people; the inner workings of their mind and the human condition, which is also why I’ve loved learning about the enneagram. I strive to know more about myself and about other people because there is a vast abyss of information, we can really never know enough. A dinner party should never be silent because of the lack of questions. On any given day you will meet a new person who has a lifetime of experiences and knowledge that you can ask about.
Everyone is curious about something, even to a small extent. I’m the type of person who loves to glance at houses while walking by and see people living their life and wonder what it’s like for them. How their day went, what they are doing that night, what they do for work, what their family is like, how do they spend their time, etc. So maybe it’s not that far off that I’m drawn to a book where he tells you exactly how some people’s experiences are in a set of circumstances that are completely different from my own.
He looked at me like I was crazy again.
“You do this for, fun?” Oy. Without sounding defensive, but also a little defensive, I threw back that this isn’t the only thing that I did for fun and as I was answering I did a virtual face palm to my own forehead because while I was being super annoyed and not wanting to answer his slow, fishing questions, literally there was an opportunity in front of me like I talked about above. I also firmly believe that if you don’t want to talk to anyone or they are making you uncomfortable you do not have to give them the time of day, as a woman if a man is trying to guilt you into engaging with him, saying rude comments or making you uncomfortable, you know exactly what to do and trust your intuition.
Anyhoo, he asked me about my work, my passion projects and he then began a long, sometimes painful, sometimes funny but all the way interesting conversation about his life in CA, how he can’t get his drinking under control, he used to work in finance but now he’s working as a machinist at a manufacturing plant because the hours are better, doesn’t know what to do with his life, is so bored at work, is trying to learn Japanese in all of his down time, doesn’t know how to make friends, etc. It was a lot that I wasn’t fully prepared for but could only give him advice in some places, encouragement in others, and an open ear for the rest.
At the end of the flight we exited the plane and went our separate ways and he reminded me again that we are all looking for connection. Through this book I’m looking for ways to connect to people who have gone through things I never have and he saw sitting next to a stranger on a flight as an opportunity to practice something he didn’t feel comfortable in and engage in a random conversation. I eventually did get to read more of my book and shared with him some of the things I was underlining and why and we both left.
Once again, books for the win.