During my travels and time off, I’ve read a great deal. Reading (and well, rummy) fill much more of the day when trekking in Nepal than hiking or sleep. Discussing novels is a downhill activity; when your step is light, you find your thoughts substantive and erudite. Uphill you only bray pop songs or curse or wheeze like a dumb pack animal carrying real, not imaginary, weight. These days my apartment looks like a library, and the kindle does too, as it either mocks or encourages with percentages left to read. Despite all this reading, both “great” and not-so-great books alike, my “escape” has instead engendered a reassessment of that very theme–fight vs. flight, perseverance vs. surrender, martyrdom vs. whatever the opposite of martyrdom is–in two books from my past.
The first book is from my childhood, this site’s eponymous I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss, a surprisingly trenchant look at growing up and searching for false utopias. The other–Catch-22, Joseph Heller’s absurdist WWII dark comedy–I read in my late adolescence identifying a little too much with the “cynical idealism” of the main character Captain John Yossarian. I venture not to imbue these books with unmerited wisdom nostalgically. Instead, I intend to approach them with fresh eyes to see whether I can reconcile each author’s perspective on escape with the important decisions of, well, life. (Yes. Dr. Seuss and Joseph Heller. Deal with it.) Because while poor mopey Hamlet may have been most concerned with his famous existential quandary, his question could be seen as just an unnecessarily emo version of a more vexing and vital one that we all confront in the business of living. Solla Sollew and Catch-22 deal with THAT vital question posed 378 years later by a different London punk: “Should I stay, or should I go now?”
At some point soon, I will dive into this, and then you can decide if I’m crazy. In the meantime, I will continue to stretch my hips since my yoga teacher tells me that’s where my all of my fight versus flight emotions are stored.