Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wake Up The Dog

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.

Douglas MacArthur
One of the troublesome facts of life is that there is more to know than any one person can possibly learn. But, depending on your point of view, it can also be one of the most joyful.

There are things that have interested me my whole life, and they still do. But there are other things that used to fascinate me and grab my attention like a cat jumping in my lap. Many of those things don't interest me any more. I don't want to know who won the World Series, who got an Oscar or when it's St. Patrick's Day. I couldn't care less.

But I'm glad that those former fascinations which have faded into the abyss of my younger years have been replaced by interests that I find even more important and enriching. I've always been interested in art and music, but these days I am experiencing them more perceptively and listening with more clarity and appreciation.

Subjects like history, philosophy, mathematics and religion bored me so much that I wanted to go out and make trouble. Now my floor is covered in books and magazines on those very topics. What happened? It wasn't just growing older and wiser(?). Something took me by the hand and led me gently into a garden of strange flowers and trees. I sat on a bench in this imaginary garden and was made to ponder my own lack of knowledge about things.

I had been a performing artist all my life and there is nothing endemically ignorant about that, (even though there are plenty of dolts in the profession). So what was different?

Something lived inside me like a faithful dog I was paying no attention to. All the knowledge I had gained was because I had to. To be properly prepared to perform in the theatre an actor should know as much as possible about the circumstances of the play and the production, taking care to know exactly what is being discussed. The research that a conscientious actor does reveals a great many new things, new knowledge and experiences, a broader view of the world. Otherwise the actor becomes entrapped in an ever shrinking circle of his own enthralling ego.

So I considered myself a fairly well educated fellow, knowledgeable about human behavior in all it's heroic and diabolical nature and adept at portraying that behavior. But there was something definitely missing.

I found it when I retired, or actually even before I retired which may have been one of the reasons I did. Quite by accident, I thought, I began to open books about subjects I knew almost nothing about and was fascinated. Existentialism, Set Theory, Judaic and Islamic studies, English novels, serial music, 20th Century European history, the obelisks of Heliopolis, the list goes on. The point is something rang the alarm bell and woke up the faithful dog sleeping at my feet.

Now I want to know it all. I never will, of course, but as much as I can I will learn things because I am interested in everything and incurably curious. It is discovering a new trail through the forest, meeting new friends, a love message in a bottle washed up on the beach, entering a room in your house you never knew was there, finding a silver nugget among the pebbles, following a great thinker's journey to a surprising conclusion, writing words that shine with beauty, hearing silent songs.

There are no wrinkles in my soul.

May Spring come quickly to your heart.
Weekend Puzzle - The Answer

12 pear were hanging high
12 men came passing by
Each took a pear and left 11 hanging there.

How is this possible?
Each is the name of a man, Sir Phillip Each of the Cornwall Eaches. He took the pear.

The Blogspot Tigers win the day.
First prize of a genuine aluminum pear tree goes to Just Plain Bill (Bill that also comes with a book: "The Care and Feeding of Partridges")

Second prize of the partridge itself goes to Val.

Good job folks.
The weekend isn't over yet so here's a Sunday Puzzle. This is a tasty one.



Good luck

1 comment:

Gerry said...

"There are no wrinkles in my soul.' Those words moved me because I think what you say is so true, indicating old age with a job no longer possible to take up many hours in a day can be so enjoyable with the learning of new things, the contemplation about eternal questions that could only be given short shrift in the busy days preceding. I had to retire in my fifties with disability and I can say I have enjoyed every minute of the hours I have been able to read and learn and write. Doc's interest in classical music has opened the door for me to listen some to music that I had not even heard in my previous years. He had me listen to Beethoven's 9th symphony clear through twice. And I would probably be enjoying more of it, if he were not using his old age to drink alcohol more hours of the day which I also see retired and disabled people doing in dismaying numbers, maybe because the desire to learn had not manifested in them enough for them to want to do it. That to me would truly be a barren old age. Some of the elderly do pursue some bad activities, too. My sister in Utah insists on expanding her quarreling hours. Stuff like that. God preserve me from a mean old person because they have got more time to be mean!