The Nuanced Normal

I fly tomorrow, half-way around the world.  Nearly everyone I spoke with up at school before my departure gaped in awe when I described the length of the flight I would endure to reach Taiwan. They didn’t realize planes could actually fly for that long without having to land to refuel.

In the past when I’ve flown internationally, the flight day has always created a big black hole in my mental calendar.  It was some sort of pit that I had to cross to enter into this other world that would be my life for a week, two weeks, a month, four months, or a year.

Now, after flying internationally for twenty-one years of my life, the prospect of living out of a suitcase for an extended period, leaving part of my life behind because I know I’ll be coming back, the tossing of the passport into a bag, and online check-ins (which I always have trouble with…), the printing of itineraries, weighing of bags, have all gone from just being a normal part of my life to them actually feeling like a normal part of my life.  For once, I’m not scrolling through my mental lists to make sure that I’m not forgetting anything because international travel has become as normal as going to class–even better, I get to sleep through it all!

In other thoughts, as Christmas approaches, I can’t help but think about one of my favorite pieces of art that I got to see in the Uffizi in Florence last March.  It’s Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi:

Just some of my favorite aspects about it:
-The ruling Medici family of Florence is painted as the magi–talk about self-importance
-The guy in brown on the right is Sandro Botticelli, the artist–he did a self-portrait

And since we’re into art, here’s a little ekphrasis on the painting.  It’s a Petrarchan sonnet based on the painting:

Demanding Praise

Swarming toward the door, the throngs now find
One final magnificent work by which they pause:
The crowd beholds another crowd who lauds
A child, bestowing upon him gifts divine.
Resplendent pomp denotes their prominence,
As magi take the form of Medicis;
The family’s status—immortal, legendary—
Permits them to condone the world’s injustice.

And yet, these pilgrims garbed in silken robes,
Who demand that every viewer honor them,
Forget that those who do deserve our praise
Sit not atop a lavish marble throne,
But rest beneath a barren, makeshift shed
Or clothe themselves in brown for endless days.


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