“One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.” (Mark Nepo)
These days, I’m looking for amusement anywhere I can find it. Like many people, I’ve cut back considerably on my news consumption. Though still (excruciatingly) aware of what’s going on, I also recognize that too much immersion into current events is hazardous to my health.
While I understand that the folks who are responsible for the Jeopardy debacle did not also coordinate our withdrawal from Afghanistan, I am nonetheless struck by the comparisons and the colossal incompetence demonstrated by both events. Sadly, one has become a catastrophe of massive human suffering, while the other just reminds us what fools these mortals be.
Earlier this month, I read Ross Gay’s 2020 release, The Book of Delights. Though he is best known for his poetry, this is a book of what he terms “essayettes”—very short (½-page to 2-page) celebrations of things that delight him—from the large and lovely to the minuscule and absurd. Mr. Gay set a goal of finding at least one delight every day for a year and recording them. The book contains about 100 of these morsels that manage in exquisite prose to shine a light on the world around us while also revealing our shared humanity. I must admit, it was delightful.
Since reading it, I’ve been trying each day to find at least one of those small hidden pleasures, and, so far, to my delight, they have appeared. The more I look, the more I seem to find (I believe there’s a deeper lesson in that). Allow me to share one of my delights:
Who could read a newspaper headline that says, “United asks flight attendants not to tape passengers to seats,” and not be delighted?
If one was unaware of the recent incident on a Frontier Airlines flight, one might be a bit bewildered by the headline. It could be on a par with reading that “Nordstrom asks sales associates not to burn customers with hot pokers,” or “Postal Service asks carriers not to put rabid badgers in residential mail boxes.”
Context really is everything. The delight is all that is unsaid in the headline. Nowhere does it refer to the recent spate of unruly and abusive passengers traveling the friendly skies. Nor does it specifically cite the recent Frontier passenger whose belligerence escalated quickly into violence—assaulting three flight attendants, punching one and groping the breasts of two others. If you watch the video recorded by another passenger, it’s hard not to cheer when the flight attendant resolved the problem with duct tape.
That we have reached a point in our civilization where a major airline directs its highly professional workforce not to duct tape its customers to their seats is a perfect sign of the times we are living in. We’re accepting the ludicrous and deplorable as normal.
Sorry, United, but I am on the side of the resourceful flight attendant, and should I ever fly again, I hope the beverage cart will be equipped not just with peanuts and ginger ale, but an industrial-size roll of duct tape.
Add it to my ticket price.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. (Martin Luther King Jr.)