I just finished a book called, “Franklin Flyer,” which I recommend. The title refers to the name of the main person in the book and he is a fascinating character. A couple of times there were things attributed to him that made me stop and think.
One of them was a reference to a person who had not followed through on a promise. The Franklin Flyer character says by way of explanation that it was because this man, “thought that by keeping people in his mind … he was actually keeping them in his life.”
I’ve witnessed this phenomenon before. It seems Facebook is perfectly designed to encourage it, too. Sometimes when I say that I need interaction with people, I can tell it’s a foreign concept to people. I think maybe the writer, Nicholas Christopher, has pinpointed the reason.
Whereas I want interaction, some feel “connected” by the mere fact that they know my name and a few facts about me and we were at one time connected. That is enough. They feel as though I’m still in their lives.
It does give reason to consider what we added to a person’s life if they are content without it being an ongoing presence, but this is a fascinating way to think about it. It’s not good or bad, it just is.
In another passage, he writes, “… he had no choice but to look inward.” Although it’s almost an aside in the book, it jumped out at me. I think looking inward is something some of us do only when we have no choice. I wonder why that is. What are we afraid we are going to find there that keeps us from looking. Or is it that we think there’s nothing to be learned by doing so?
At another moment in the book, a character’s mother dies, and he cuts school and takes the bus to various places in the area. Christopher writes, “He felt that if he allowed the rhythms of his daily life to flow unimpeded, it would finalize the fact of his mothers’ death; if he broke them he could put that moment off. Later, he would understand that wandering was also his way of mourning.”
Wandering is a concept that continues to emerge in my life – either by the drive to do it, or references to it like this. For this character, wandering was mourning. For others I think it’s a way to prevent mourning.
I made it a point on the first anniversary of my mother’s death to be in Paris, half a world away. Part of me wanted to be with those who had been at my side during that time. Another part of me wanted to be somewhere very different. The latter won out. I wasn’t sure I could face being in my “normal” surroundings because nothing seemed normal yet.
Although I was travelling with a friend, I spent that day alone, except for the interaction of strangers I had never seen before and will never see again. But I was not wandering, I had a mission. I went to Notre Dame and sat there at the exact moment of her death a year earlier, and sobbed. Strangers offered assistance, but it felt more of an intrusion than a comfort. I grieved more in an hour than I had in the previous few months.
I returned to the hotel room my friend and I were sharing and didn’t want to talk with him, either. The night before had been fueled with too much wine and too many demons. While I was mourning this tremendous loss of my mother I knew on some level that I was mourning a loss between us, too. Timing is everything in life, and ours was not good those 24 hours.
But we kept each other in our minds and pretended we were in each other’s lives. There’s always that possibility as long as someone is on your mind, regardless of how remote it is. We looked inward when we couldn’t avoid it, we wandered and we mourned.
Now he is gone and I’ve mourned him too, but without wandering. One day soon, I will wander again – and grieve many things that are waiting their turns..