In this culture, deep truth seems indistinguishable from deep cynicism. We learn at an early age to deeply discount the (air quotes) wisdom of anyone more experienced, AKA: older; anyone, in other words, who might know better. Just because they’ve never yet seen anything like MY brilliant strategy work, doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant. Or that it won’t work. Enthusiasm trumps experience. Naivete supplants knowledge. Youth must make its own mistakes, which tend to be the same mistakes their elders made in their time.

I’m feeling older now, probably because I have grown older. I notice my age in my growing inability to feel cynical about anything, and also in my growing acceptance of what matters. I once believed that I might have stumbled upon a bit of radically new knowledge. I now understand that my elders had staked claim to both that knowledge and its adjacent folly long before I appeared to deride them.

I’m the one derided now, a role I rather bask in, feeling an integral part of story lines older than Shakespeare, older than even the Old Testament, which makes my point by being rather new-ish, history-wise. Youth seems no more or less delusional than age, for both progress at about the same speed over the same territory. Our ignorance seems about the same size it ever was in spite of each generation’s experience of having vastly expanded the edge of knowledge. We might have improved our overall proportion of knowing by a hair-slice of a hair-slice, progress lost in rounding compared with the vast dark matter comprising most of even the universe we account for as known, which is, of course, lost in rounding in the vastness of the universe we can’t yet imagine.

Our time’s running out, yet we distract ourselves with issues of temporally great importance. We find time somehow to fear and dread, hate and revile, deride and snark. We mostly focus upon irrelevancy, and seem to have always done so. Every generation believed it their special responsibility to save the world, and each did, though in ways none anticipated. The world seems capable of preserving itself, or at least preserving the patterns that replicate its long history. We are no less a part of that than the squirrel digging through my vain landscaping to bury nuts he will not remember to exhume. He digs with true purpose, however, stopping only to scratch whatever’s itching him. He will retire to his treetop tonight and sleep in the understanding that he made enough of a difference, I suppose, as his eyes close on another day.

I hoard my chestnuts, too, burying them for future use, though I should know the future must forget to discover anything on its own. We are discoverers more than rememberers, though we scan and retain every trivial exchange. We take notes, I guess, to distract ourselves from really listening so we can create our own world, which I presume we somehow must, though it will be indistinguishable from the world that came long before we arrived.

In this culture, deep truth seems indistinguishable from deep cynicism.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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