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Day 455: Objects May Be Larger...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I feel this year to be a crossroads for me, as I try to look at where I've been and draw up a plan for where I want to go.

MEDDYPEDDY's blog today discusses a philosophy class she attended this week. Regarding the 20s-something group, she said: "Three women, nine men...is philosophy a subject for men?" That prompted this morning's contemplation about perspective and outlook on Life.

A few days ago I ran into a girl who's always struck me as having uncommon good sense. I met her some twelve years ago, when she was about 19 and starting her first "real" job. During that year she moved out of her parents' house, bought a cheap used car, and began to build her future.

She was thoughtful - not as in "considerate of others" (though she was that, too), but as in "carefully weighing options before making decisions."

At that age, I was more apt to bemoan what I didn't have, what I couldn't do, and to gnash my teeth with impatience to Arrive At My Destination (that destination being happiness and contentment and prosperity, with none o'the misfortune living can bring).

At that age, Emily had a clear vision that whatever the future might hold, she would meet it head on, cope with what she had to, enjoy what she could, and live Life to the full. She's a girl of rare and remarkable vision.

Back in the day, she was once chitchatting about this and that, then said "The world is my oyster--!"

So it was. I had enough age to appreciate what she was saying - and enough age to feel a twinge of jealousy that I had not been so wise when I was 19.

A chance remark from GREASYJOAN a while back contributed to this internal dialogue. Of Melville's classic she wrote: "I think it is cruel and unusual punishment to inflict 'Moby Dick' on anyone under about 30. You need to have known loss, passion, and a bit of obsession to appreciate it. ...fast forward to age 50 and I can really get into [Melville]... There are some books that should be put in an Al Gore style 'lock-box' until a person is 30 or 45 or 60, I think. This is one of them."

During my 20s I worked at a small liberal-arts college. One of my bosses was the resident Shakespeare scholar. As an English lit major I was less than enthusiastic, shall we say, about Shakespeare. I read what was assigned, with heavy support from Cliff or Monarch notes, and managed to muddle through.

This fellow used to say that no one under forty could read and appreciate "King Lear." (He used to say similar things about other Shakespearian tragedies, but that's neither here nor there.)

I'd hear him pontificating and think "He's full of it. EYE can read 'Lear,' if I want to, and understand it perfectly well. Old man with a couple of spoiled brats, neglecting the only child who genuinely loves him, losing his grip on power, on reality, on Life itself. What's not to understand?"

Forty years on, I hear the old prof outlining the necessity of bringing experience to the mix, of having some years to season perspective when reading a complex story of psychological depth.

And I think about where I've been, and where I want to go...

Have a good'un, Sparklers - carpe diem!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I feel flattered that you referenced me! I was a bit like That Girl You Mention. I was born with some sort of innate "snobbery" (mainly because my first memories deal with my internal reflections on the inferiority of my younger sister).
    I did not want to waste time trifling. I read serious books and I knew that sometime...at some point...it would mean more to me than I could know. I got down the cadences of English poetry and listened to music and dreamed of college college college. The good thing about reading Moby Dick or King Lear or Ulysses as a teenager is that you can store away some of it. Some images. Some ideas. Some of the concepts.

    I once wrote down a summary of my experience of reading "The Emperor of Ice Cream" by Wallace Stevens at age 15, then at 20, 25, and every 5 years until you reach the googolplex which is my age. One thing I had going for me was that I always trusted that the book or the poem had an element of greatness to it that I was not yet able to appreciate. And I am very glad that I trusted the verdict of Western civilization and of those elderly professors.

    And there comes a point when Beethoven's late string quartets no longer seem monotonous and unadventurous, but profound, cerebral, and penetratingly fascinating.

    Ideally we should all learn a useful trade in high school, get a job, salt away money, buy a house, get our drugs, drinking, fornications and childbirthing out of the system and start a serious university education at ages 30-50.
    2946 days ago
  • SCOOTER4263
    I absolutely agree. I reread Lear about two years ago and saw in an entirely different light - I have a whole new understanding of the whole "...that way madness lies..." business that simply wasn't possible in my twenties. A great deal of Life is like that, I think.

    This is the main reason I wouldn't be twenty again on a bet (although I'd happily swap bodies.) It also makes it easier to watch one's 20-something children do idiotic things - this, too, (with luck), shall pass.

    Great blog. I'll be thinking on this one all day.
    2946 days ago
    Good blog! Sometimes I think much of the undergrad curriculum is wasted on the young. I go back to the books I read as a philosophy major or as a comp lit student and get so much more out of them now that I am in my 40s.
    2946 days ago
    2946 days ago
    Shoudda, coudda, woudda ......... now we know !!!

    Have a 'special' day today !!!
    2946 days ago
    Kasey, Kasey, you are once again guilty of making me THINK! Perhaps one of the reasons I so enjoyed college was that I was working full time, living life, and had that maturity as a "non-traditional" student. I loved philosophical discussions. Eventually I got tired of them, but I still hold them (thus my blogs!) The importance of balance... but seriously, I kind of identify with the "learn from experience" not from just reading about someone else's before you are mature enough to "get it."

    That said, different strokes for different folks. Some kids are "born old", as apparently your friend Emily was? Have a great today, and a good rest tonight!
    2946 days ago
    Age and experience affords a wisdom that I didn't have in my younger years...also an appreciation of so much more. emoticon
    2946 days ago
    Too true, thus the saying "Hindsight is 20/20".
    I look at my children and want to blurt out "you should do this..."
    Life is an experience - live it!
    2946 days ago
    And how is that young girl doing? she did have a good head on her shoulders.
    2946 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Ain't hindsight & experience great?
    2946 days ago
    What a wonderful reflection to read!
    2946 days ago
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