• Posted: Jan 12, 2010 17:02:51
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Some of us seem never to be confused, awestruck, or discombobulated. We foresee it all and are seldom surprised. But the rest of us know full well those feelings, that state of mind when things suddenly don't compute, when what we thought we knew now doesn't fit, doesn't explain, doesn't account for what is plainly right there in front of us. Our thinking screeches to a halt. We struggle to understand. We try to get our thoughts around. Novel information thrust upon us, we struggle to recompute our entire universe of understandings, recompute our bearings, recompute our headings, perhaps even profoundly alter who we thought we were and what we thought we were up to. A new game is afoot.
Awe, wonderment, mystified delight, they are all states of mind we were quite open to as children. But the older we get, the less open we are to anything that might upset our "apple cart". We get set in our ways, become rigid, inflexible, less tolerant of variance and novelty, less willing to rethink what we thought we knew, what we believe to be true. And it's a shame, a disquieting shame, because without the ability to alter course, we inevitably collide: with one another, with foreigners, with young people, with the very situations we've worked so hard to build and maintain. Our mature inflexibility seemingly predestines us to crash and burn.
But, is that an overstatement? Isn't reliability, constancy, consistency a good thing? Under another name, isn't that what we call "maturity"? Isn't that what we call "character"? Surely, maturity and character are good things.
They are. But what isn't good is close-mindedness to the point of undermining one's ability to adapt to change. Change is certain. And understanding is nearly always incomplete or at least somewhat imperfect. We undermine our own viability to not take account of those facts. The quest for a more complete understanding can never be a fait accompli.
May you forever find fascination and wonderment and may the wisdom you seek to develop prove ever more insightful and productive.
Saturday, May 6th, 1989