Great Expectations is not on the Modern Library's list of top 100 novels. Not that I think it should be. But at least I don't have to read it. Again. I did have to read it in High School. Chris Bailey and I turned it into a contest to see who could finish first. Other than that, I didn't find it that great.
I did however have Great Expectations for my drive back from Kansas. Kind of a dry run for my upcoming x-country road trip with my son. I got a nice new U-Haul 30-foot truck. It's always a surprise to see what picture you get on the side. And I got...
Ghost Orchids! Pretty freaky right? They grow in the Florida swamps. And they never touch the ground! This you could read on the side of the van as I motored my way across America's heartland, enlightening all who happened to be stuck next to me for 20+ hours of nonstop driving fun.
OK I did stop for about a 4 hour nap in a Dollar Inn. $29.95! Free HBO!
I chose to ball that jack across 9 states entirely without the radio. Or CD. Or iPod. Just me and the committee in my head, doing a filibuster. Were the great questions of the universe answered? The riddle of the Sphinx solved? Hardly. But I do have quite a playlist in my head, it seems. More like an 8-track unfortunately, for those of you who remember them, and it turns out I don't know too many lyrics. So it was kind of like 20 hours of the Kingsmen doing Louie Louie.
I was prepared for boring Oh My Brothers, but the road had other plans. 20 hours of no calls or text messages (to speak of), no email, and no trying to figure out what people are saying to me. Just the road and the whine of an underpowered engine. Suddenly I realized I could do an awful lot of that.
I thought of my Dad. Sitting alone in his shop in the basement. Hours and days. Then weeks and months and years. Thinking up new experiments and bad jokes. There is no doubt he enjoyed that time, but I think he was happier among other people. When he could stand it. It helped him get outside of his head.
Isolation in moderation is probably a good thing. It gives one time to take inventory. Make adjustments. Weigh values. But we are not solitary animals. We need each other, if for no other purpose than to restore balance. To share our lives and our jokes with one another. And get out of our heads.
"With great power, comes great responsibility." - Peter Parker's Uncle Ben
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine
In this life I have shirked responsibility, and given less than my best at times. It seemed like there was a good reason at the time. Which just proves what can happen if you listen to yourself too much.