Business travel isn’t exactly conducive to deep thinking. Instead, disconnected notions pop into your head, including these from my trip today:
You don’t realize how deafening most modern airports are until you are trying to talk to someone on a cell phone from a gate waiting area.
Most parents who take kids on planes these days are saints. Between the much longer times at the airport thanks to security screenings, to the noise and commotion that won’t let kids doze off, to the embarrassing screaming fits of exhausted toddlers who don’t understand why their ears hurt when the plane comes down, a parent taking their kid on a plane trip these days must have the patience of Job — and most of the Moms and Dads I see manage to keep their cool. It’s annoying to hear the wailing of an over-tired kid, but I always feel sorry for the parents and want to go up to them and say: “Don’t worry about it, we’ve all been there.”
Did you ever notice that you only hear the phrases “stow” and “power down” on the recorded messages that play at the beginning and end of a plane flight?
On my return flight this afternoon, I was industriously chewing the ice shards in my little plastic drink cup, trying to obtain every ounce of moisture in the hyper-dessicated airplane cabin environment, when I suddenly became acutely aware of the woman sitting next to me and wondered whether the ice-chewing was getting on her nerves. I tried to chew the ice in a quieter way, but there really isn’t one.
I had a quick trip to D.C. this morning, returning this afternoon, and it was a downer. In addition to the torrential rains and bleak skies, and the bumper-to-bumper, constant-honking, angry-gesturing traffic that made what should be a 15-minute taxi ride into an hour-long ordeal, the news on the radio was all about shutdown, shutdown, shutdown. I saw tangible evidence of our inert government when the cab drove past the Lincoln Memorial and I saw the “closed” sign and the barriers blocking off the area around the noblest structure on the National Mall.
Everybody on the streets, from the surly drivers to the sodden pedestrians, seemed deep in gloom, and I found myself sinking deeper into the mire with each fresh blast from a car horn. It’s hard not to be depressed about the state of our nation when petty politics causes the closure of even public areas that are supposed to remind us of our nation’s glory.
I was surfing the net recently when I ran across an odd piece in the Huffington Post about a North Dakota woman “marrying” herself. Six years after dealing with a painful divorce, the woman went though a commitment ceremony with herself. She describes herself as “very happy” and “very joyous,” and she takes herself on “dates” to “invest in this relationship.”
At first I thought it was one of those oddball stories about the curious antics of one person — but apparently it isn’t. There’s actually an entire website devoted to self-marriage ceremonies, with links to sections like “self-marriage unveiled” and “about self-marriage.”
I’m not a hidebound traditionalist about who should participate in a marriage. I support same-sex marriage, for example. But I also think that the whole concept of marriage has to involve another person. A crucial part of the institution is making sacrifices for the betterment of someone else, and legally committing yourself to that separate individual in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer.
I don’t care how many “dates” you might take yourself on. I don’t care how schizophrenic you might be. I don’t care how disastrous your prior relationships have been. You simply can’t “marry” yourself in any meaningful sense.
One reason I support same-sex marriage is that it recognizes the importance of the institution of marriage. Gay couples who want to marry are eager for the commitment, welcome the legal enforcement of that commitment, and understand that making that legal commitment means something important. They want to participate in an institution that has been crucial to the advancement of civilization.
Proponents of “self-marriage,” on the other hand, are really devaluing and mocking that institution. It’s transparent, pathetic, and kind of sad.