5.27.2012

On the Relativity of Truth.



I drove Addison up to Cleveland for a soccer tournament today.  While the family as a whole is divided on the issue of windows down while on the highway -- he and I are of one mind -- so they were down and open the whole way there.  The sun was bright, the wind was strong and we chatted and laughed and played the alphabet game (stuck on "Q" for 15 minutes! til: "THERE!" (I scared him to death.) "A La QUINTA Inn!!!).

At one point he sneezed and reached into the dashboard compartment, pulled out a muggswigz napkin to wipe his nose and when he finished he kind of let it drop (kids.  always dropping their messes. grrr.)  As the napkin hesitated in mid-air, I saw what was coming and I told Addison to grab it, but it was too late.  Almost in slow motion we saw it sucked out the window.

It was kind of an awesome moment.  The moment where the napkin transitioned between the car's speed and the the gentle breeze on the freeway was shocking because to us? In the car?  We were just sitting.  Chilling.  Chatting.  And as the napkin started to drop to the floor, it was average, normal, dull in every way but then the vacuum like force that yanked it out the window looked astonishing: like an alien abduction, like an airplane propeller eating the movie villain who's violent ambitions have led him to this tragic end.

But then, as I watched our litter, tragic regret tingling all over my body, in the rearview mirror?  It hung there, suspended, disbelieving, hovering over the highway til we were gone.

Such speed, such violence and then, such slow drifting peace.

One of the things that I've been thinking about lately is how shockingly different truth feels to us at different times and different places.

The most important truths that we clung to in our youth?  Seem laughable and naive from a distance.  The truths that define people's lives who live far away from us (literally or metaphorically far) seem puzzling, angering, ridiculous and nonsensical?  The truths our parents and friends come to love when we're not near them are shocking and unfamiliar.  It's not a new idea nor a complicated idea but when you look it full in the eyes it really does moderate your sense of surety, triumphalism or commitment.  To any cause.

The speed of the car was rendered invisible by our consensus.  Addison and I, the contents of the car, and the vehicle itself were all moving together.  It was all so true for so long that we had come to believe it.  And the napkin shocked us into realizing that we were a fiction:  Not as permanent, dependable or as important as we had been assuming.

At any minute we could just be drifting aimlessly toward an entirely different ending.

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