OK, we are back, albeit with a mild disclaimer over the content of this week’s entry: I know I proclaimed the main thrust and goal of this undertaking would be to function as a meeting place for minds and a forum for self expression open to all comers with input, but I feel I must add a bit more to the definition of this site’s raison d’etre:
This site’s reason for existence is manyfold – it exists first and foremost as a platform for ideas, thoughts and arguments for all who would draw a pen from the quiver to contribute, but there are a multitude of secondary considerations that breathe life into this forum. Not the least of which is to provide a tool that enables me to hone my wits (and, I hope, wit) as I strive to stave off the encroaching Dotage Demon. Pet birds are typically provided a cuttlestone in their enclosure to provide a way of conditioning and sharpening their beaks while not in the wild. So too, our minds require a similar sharpening device, which is just another way of saying “an idle mind is the Devil’s playground”. Additionally, it is my hope that you will also find this writing entertaining to some degree and it is with this objective in mind that I present this week’s offering – in hindsight, I probably should have identified these additional reasons in my initial outing, I confess.
Confession: it’s good for the soul, or so they say (although, I confess, I’ve never really understood exactly who “they” are and how they all came upon such a surfeit of wisdom and understanding). Be assured that finding out who “they” are and, perhaps, even meeting “them” holds a prominent spot on my bucket list. Now that I think about it, I might even ask “them” for a glimpse at their credentials since “they” presume qualification to advise all of us on the art of living life. That being said, let’s examine this topic of confession.
As a nice Italian boy growing up in NY, I was first introduced to the concept by my teachers (nuns). Confession then, as an artifact of my conscripted religious affiliation (nice Italian boys don’t get to pick from the plentiful palette of world religions – you go Catholic or you go to Hell, pretty much) provided a means of getting away with murder, so to speak. A sort of spiritual “get out of jail free” card – the bad stuff (and its accompanying deleterious effect on your spiritual being) could be expunged from your record by simply telling another person about it and saying that you were (truly) sorry. It’s a good concept and one that has been co-opted by various other factions (12 step programs, for example, have adopted this concept as an essential component of an effective recovery plan). As life progressed, in its inexorable stream of teaching moments, I began to see that the concept held fast for many aspects of life and especially the whole Idea of lightening your spiritual load through the act of disclosure – the trick is to add determination against repeat behavior to the disclosure (go then, and sin no more) – therein lies the key to success.
I apologize for the rather long-winded lead in, but that was essential groundwork necessary to get to the “good stuff” – my confession (judgmental types are about to have a field day).
Throughout my life I have enjoyed the gift of intellect – the product of DNA and an upbringing that encouraged and enriched intellectual growth (a shout out to Mom and Dad here is in order). I grew up as a person who was always “smarter than the average bear” and my academic efforts consistently reflected that (although my deportment produced a very different record). I got accustomed to being the “smartest guy in the room” in most scenarios and learned to use that status to compensate for what I lacked in physical prowess and athletic skill. (i.e. making friends with the biggest guy on the playground as an effective insurance policy for a schoolboy). I also discovered that I could play the intellect card as an effective hedge against my rather deplorable behavior as a child. This worked well for me through the first 20 – 40 years of my life (life, and all its accouterments are simply a larger version of the school playground where we all began our socialization process – think it through, the model holds true) but began to become problematic as I approached the half-century mark of life experience. (Judgment alert: confession is forthcoming). As time wore on and worked its inevitable dark magic (Father Time is undefeated) , I found myself trading on an ability that no longer held sway in all theaters of operation. I now merely thought I was the smartest guy in the room – life had taught me that was always my go to posture. However, the insidious thing about Time is that it works its dark magic, well, in the dark – you have no awareness that, as you gain more life experience (making you eminently qualified to comment on it and make life decisions), you are slowly but surely losing the ability to do so – dark magic, indeed. The net effect of this surreptitious and inexorable sapping of resources is that the “smartest guy in the room” suddenly finds he has been transformed to nothing much more than an arrogant bastard (pity they named an ale for me after I had quit drinking). This is a tough life lesson to observe, let alone absorb. But, observe it I have in countless scenarios of my life since reaching middle age. In retrospect, I realize now that, too often during those years, I entered so many interactions with the misguided notion that I knew best what ought to happen based solely on the (now expired) credential of being Smartest Guy in the Room. This notion has led me to many faulty decisions and life choices, not to mention damage to interpersonal relationships. Therefore, I felt compelled to write about this today. I can boil this all down to a simple realization that hit me the other day, and informed the bulk of today’s writing: Life’s greatest irony is the fact that once you are old enough to realize you’re not “all that”, you don’t have time to become ANY of “that”. I have this blog as a means of retaining what intellect I still have at my command, and perhaps informing or even inspiring those who choose to read without the mask of judgment obstructing your vision. Well, that’s what I wanted to share today, I confess, I feel a little better…… 😉