What's To Know
When I was young, I considered myself naÔve because there was so little I knew or even thought about beyond what was given to me on the radio, television, or my schoolmates during recesses where they each tried to one up each other. I remember the confusion I had when I first heard an adolescent say ďFuckĒ, having no idea what it meant or the meaning of the explanation when he answered my question, ďWhatís that mean?Ē
I was either timid, anxious, shy, prone to say things others regarded as stupid and self-embarrassing, or, on rare days, outgoing and happily foolish trying to get attention by making people laugh. To cope, I turned into the class clown, a continued pattern of misbehaving. This got me in trouble, of course as I chose poor places to express this clownish self Ė the school yard in front of older, more wizened kids; the classroom, in response to teacherís remarks; or in front of the Principal standing with strap in hand, ready to let me know the errors of my ways. Daily visits to see the Principal beat the foolishness out of me.
I hated that innocence, that lack of knowledge that others seemed to have. I hated my naivety and simple wonder about what I didnít know. In turn, I judged myself as stupid, deserving of ridicule from others and the rejection and loneliness I felt.
Then as an early adolescent, I learned to be more controlled about my foolishness. I learned to be Clint Eastwood silent, watching for the most part, speaking infrequently. But my innocence and mindlessness continued to earn me humiliation and teasing from my peers, or worse, simple inattention.
To survive, I lost myself in books choosing to read WWII POW escape stories, or books about beautiful collies coming to the rescue, or fighter pilots dodging the Kaiserís bullets in canvas clad contraptions. I muddled through High School and beyond, mostly satisfied with my own company.
Moving on through formal education, I left most of my peers behind. My limited book-learning-intelligence served me well in the competition for grades, attention, and rewards like scholarships and teaching placements. But I knew I was still ill-informed and stuck in my naivety about real life and what mattered to most everyone else. I called myself, even then,The Great Pretender.
In middle life, I used my creative juices to produce teaching materials, invent classroom activities, and develop what I considered to be useful lessons for my adult students to learn. But what value is such learning, what value were such materials, what value were such ideas when it was only my idealized view of the world that gave them a place of use. I taught with passion, an enthusiasm most just tuned out. They didnít share my idealism, naivety, curiousity and wonder at what I considered to be possible.
As I move into my elder years, I look back at a lifetime of production having been junked by others, and wonder if my spent energy was only for myself and the illusion that I was making the world a better place like a good boy scout; or if some few, along the way, shared my desire to achieve better, more satisfying understanding of what it is to be human, and how to achieve truth-based relationships.
Now, I live a much smaller life, finding wonder in the bit of nature that surrounds my rural home; being curious about the little things toward which I point my camera; taking wonder in the things I write about. Iím still naÔve about so much, but now I relish that innocence. I consider this awareness as the purpose of my life Ė to be enveloped by naivety, curiousity and wonder about the simplest of things?
the track of a snail