Oct 7, 2015

Tom, who feels fortunate

Last night a friend was bemoaning the poor state of her focus that prevented her reading "100 years of solitude". It just took too much thought for her current mood for amusement and escape.

Books that require the exercise of emotion in addition to thought, can take more than they give sometimes. They are eventually the books most worth reading, though what they bring to the reader is less easily identified than the sobs triggered by a tragedy or the sighs from a steamy romance.

I've been stuck in a similar rut for a while now. Stresses have been outnumbering joys and my need from literature is not intellectual stimulation but reprieve. My favorite literary authors have lost their hold on me, though I hope only temporarily. Oddly enough, I find myself reading more non-fiction than before even if it's only in the form of online mags and news sites. This morning too, I was intrigued by the news that respected Indian poetess Nayantara Sehgal renounced government inaction over a religious lynching, by surrendering a government granted literary award. One link led to another until soon, I was immersed in liberal outrage over the evil, fundamentalist Indian government. As much as it aligned with my views, it left me feeling like I was covered in grime.

I tapped my phone browser shut as the train rocked me along the tracks to work, and opened up FB in hope of a few cute pictures and uplifting anecdotes. But where gun-control links used to be until a day ago, were now appeals for justice in the heinous Kunduz hospital bombing. 

There was to be no reprieve for me in any quarter of the globe today. 

The need to shrink away from the world revealed to me in naked truth at my fingertips, was compelling and my library app was loaded with the latest Gillian Flynn novel as well as an old Sophie Kinsella piece of chic-lit fluff. I found myself tapping on the Pepto Bismol pink cover of the Kinsella read so I could be sucked into the blissfully shallow world of a quirky 20-something in search of herself (and of course, love), grappling with entertaining misadventures along the way.

It didn't do the trick this morning when senseless, violent deaths crowded out all amusing inanities.

I put down my phone and let the window-framed views of the northern fringes of Boston lull me into un-thinking. Train depots rolled by as did winding stretches of tangled highways, dotted with whizzing cars. Fittingly, even my beloved city was offering up only stark images of bare existence today.

I stopped for coffee in my office building cafe, run by disabled veterans, and chatted with Tommy as usual. He asked me how my night was. I lied that it had been relaxing and quiet. He replied his had been too, though perhaps he was being just as truthful as I. Tommy and I chat often enough for me to know that this young man in his 20s can only see flashes of light due to his Glaucoma, was a military kid who traveled the world before adulthood, served in the marines himself and always wears a smile. So I felt comfortable asking him if there were any TV shows with commentary that he could listen to instead of 'watching'.

"Oh yeah. And because I could see once, the commentary works really well for me. I know color. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who has to hear about water but had never actually seen water, you know?"

I said that I really didn't know but he was helping me think about it.

"Yeah, I'm really lucky. I've seen so much of the world that my head's full of pictures. I don't miss seeing them quite so much. I had friends at Quincy high school who'd never left the city in their life."

This, from a boy (since that's what he seems to me) who lost his vision 5 years, ago because inept doctors failed to catch the obvious signs of his disease: his blindness was preventable. His life could've turned out very, very different.

But my friend Tom feels he's lucky.
And my day, along with my attitude, just changed completely.

Oyon-ism (almost 9)
He hands me a flier from his school folder about a sock drive at school for homeless kids. The woman organizing, Robin Doherty, also organized a new clothes/toys drive for a struggling family last year. Oyon had agreed then that we should spend our Christmas tree money on that. We went shopping for the kid in that family and put up our little plastic tree instead. I mentioned to him that Robin was his classmate Alexa's mom. 
Me: She's cool.
Oyon: Yeah. That's super nice of her.
Me: I know I'm going to spend some of MY money on getting those kids some socks.
Oyon: Can I spend some of my piggy bank money on it too?
Me: If you want. A bag of socks at TJ Maxx is only about $5.
Oyon: Yeah, but I only want to spend my $1 bills. Can you get socks for that much?
Me: If you use 5 of them, yes.
Oyno: Great. I'm bored of them. I want $5 bills now.
Me: You do realize that you can swap those $1 bills for a $5 bill, right?
Oyon: That's ok. Warm socks are worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Very eloquently said! So true about our attitude and outlook that makes all the difference! Tom's story makes me wonder if there's an opposite of the saying - the grass is always greener on the other side...