I wonder if at times it is uncharitable for me to enjoy the company of people who provide me with such great writing material based on our shared experiences. To most normal people, a night like last night would not be one that would prompt someone to want to write about it. Such a night would either be too mundane to think much about or too embarrassing to want to write about in detail, and yet my own observations of others suggested something worth thinking about and even praying about. Again, I hope this is not uncharitable to others. As much as I enjoy taking up my pen, metaphorically speaking, and writing about my life, I do not wish those around me to suffer as a result of my writing. If I must suffer, that is part of the consequences of having hobbies and interests as dangerous as my own, but I do not like to make others suffer. With that said, let us begin.
As soon as I found out that once again  that I had Friday off, making this weekend a four-day weekend, I made plans to spend it in relative peace and quiet in the countryside of Clackamas County. When I finished my work and, somewhat tired after having some particularly unpleasant sleep the past few days, I arrived home to prepare for the visit. Since my roommate was gone, I got the mail and left a note for him and then packed my car with my viola and stand, backpack for church and laptop, and a garment bag with clothes for the next four days and then I headed to the library to drop off books I had finished with and pick up new ones and then I was off. Traffic was not terrible, except that there were quite a few slow trucks on the road that seemed to find their way in front of me that were more than a little bit irritating. Despite my knowledge of logistics and the role of trucks within it, I find myself frequently frustrated by how trucks slow down traffic for everyone else on the road.
When I had arrived at my destination by about 4PM, I found the home empty. Everyone else was, it appears, still at work in some fashion. So I put my stuff down and got to writing and relaxing. It was some time before everyone had returned home, and by then I had answered a call about our dinner plans, which involved us going to the home of a relative of the hosts some miles away . When everyone we expected had arrived, our all male party decided to travel. At first we went in a car affectionately known as the Thunderchicken, which smelled of the offal of the mice that had made it a home in its derelict and abandoned state over the past few months. This proved offensive to those of us inside the car, so we parked the car and went in the truck, which was crammed but not as unpleasant and listened to some cover versions of classic Beach Boys songs along the way.
The dinner itself was also worthy of reporting. I found much that struck my attention that I found troubling. Our hostess faced a great deal of criticism from one of her daughters on account of a salad with lettuce, chickpeas, and carrots, which the daughter did not consider to be a salad because she did not like chickpeas and implied that only her mother liked them. As I happen to like chickpeas myself, I politely defended the mother. There seemed to be a certain amount of distraction as well in getting the various dishes and condiments on the table, and one member of the family was deep in withdrawal the whole evening, which troubled me. Still others withdrew after dinner in order to nap a bit before it was time to return, and three of us, two of the ladies in the household and myself, played a little bit of a game that was somewhat odd and more than a little uncomfortable. One of the tasks, for example, involved having people tickle the person taking a turn from behind, which in the case of all of us playing would likely be an unpleasant experience for the one doing the tickling. The evening as a whole gave me much to think about–the food was tasty and much of the conversation was, at least for me, pleasant, but there was also a lot that I noticed to trouble me as an observer in the violence both verbal and physical that I saw. The teasing seemed a bit too rough, and that is something that always bothers me.
After we made our way back to the home of my hosts, I had much to ponder about. What is it about a situation that makes us want to withdrawal or run away? Why do we have to fight and quarrel so much? What obligations does an observer have, particularly an observer who finds much to make them feel uncomfortable about what is going on? How does our observation of others speak about ourselves and our own concerns and our own sensitivities? It may be all well and good to enjoy the company of those who continually provoke one to thought and reflection, and certainly I do , but we have to remember that these are people with their own stories and their own perspectives. Maybe they did not see anything in the evening worthy of their reflection or concern. Maybe they were just tired and did not see anything worrisome about the teasing or the withdrawal. But having found not only food for body but also food for thought, I pondered, and write.
 See, for example: