This Crazy Concept of Time

“Come From Away” is coming to my community later the year, and we have tickets, in part because it’s a show my daughter likes, and in part because it’s part of a package we bought. If you don’t know what the show is about, here. Have Kleenex handy.

We have learned through hard experience that sometimes it’s worth downloading and listening to the soundtrack of a show before you show up in the theater. I think I’ve made it through this one maybe twice while driving, outright sobbing at a couple of points, which can’t be safe for the drivers in the other cars.

Betsy was born after 9/11, so some of the power of this show is diffused for her, although she’s heard the soundtrack and prepared to bawl from start to end. But the parts that bring me to tears aren’t just the memories of that time or the sad turns of the plot but the points of kindness and humanity that come through the story. (My hope is that this is “on brand” for me.)

I was thinking about the story behind the show this weekend – the life of the passengers on their way to the US on 9/11 who were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland for several days while our airspace was closed, for those too lazy to follow the link or Google it – and in part it was because of that experience of “timelessness.” Matthe Kelly, a popular Catholic writer, talks in his books about “carefree timelessness”, when you’re just lost in the presence of another, like a teen on the phone with their crush (I mean, in the ‘80s, I guess). But this is another sort of timelessness, the not-carefree kind.

I was talking with April about this last night (no, this is not the caliber of most of our conversations); about how we seem to construct this sense of “time” that comes with routines and responsibilities and deadlines and pressures and predictability that can make us feel like we’re living meaningful lives, or we’re connected to the outside world, or that we have a sense of normalcy, but it’s all a myth we sell to ourselves. When a hurricane blows through or even by your community (as happened in North Florida this year and as we recall from last year), or you come in contact with people struggling just to survive (as our friends in Uganda or the priest from DRC who visited our church Sunday remind us), or you have a personal or family emergency – the death of a parent or a medical emergency, we realize how much that “normal life” is a facade, and we lose ourselves for awhile in the rawness of really living.

Maybe the routines of “normal life” are a crutch to soften the edges of raw living for those of us who have the luxury of adopting them and the need for mediated life. Maybe online living is the next generation of mediation. I do not romanticize or long for that raw life, because I’ve only really encountered it in tough times. But it’s probably good for me to remember from time to time that that raw life is what’s real, and not the latest brouhaha on Twitter.


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