Monday, February 2, 2015

A Wish For My Sons

Wisdom is not automatic, no matter what the old-timers might imply (or outwardly state) about themselves. Learnable moments appear and, sure, some lessons are hard to avoid learning. If one steps on button and a rock falls and hits one on the head, as a result, one learns not to step on that button again. Laboratory rats have learned similar lessons, though, so no glory there.

But real wisdom takes work and commitment to the quest. Inevitability, the "youth is wasted on the young" aphorism comes to mind, because once we acquire certain nuggets of wisdom, we want to share them with those who have not found them yet. Parents try earnestly to do this for their children.

Of course, the most important job of a parent is to teach his or her kids to think clearly and logically, not what to think. Still, the most important lessons we have learned carry with them certain truths. Although we know our kids must walk certain paths in order to truly understand, we hand them what might well be irrelevant trail maps, expecting them to truly know without ever putting their toes in the dirt.

William Blake's "mind forg'd manacles"
It's hard to resign to the ineffectual nature of this desire to teach. Can it really be that all of the wisdom the hard-working thinker acquires is useful only to himself? On one level, I like the idea; it affirms the importance of individuality. On the other hand, as a member of a social species, it makes it all seem like a bit of a waste -- not a total loss, but contrary to the sharing instinct I, and most of us, have.

For me, the things I have learned to see clearly are revelations that I want to share with my sons. If I could just get them to see how unimportant some things really are -- things that the world would convince them are essentials; if I could just take unnecessary burdens off of their shoulders that are doing nothing but adding difficulty to the already ridiculously challenging task of growing up; if I could just steer them away from the negative pulls of the social tides and away from the common practices that drive wedges between friends and that, although they might feel powerful, are actually impotent struggles for temporary and useless power that result in discord...

I'm lucky that my boys are not really eye-rollers; that they want to listen to my ideas. I don't know -- maybe with the map in their hands, they will be more ready for the paths they might find. The alternative is to stop trying, and that is not okay, for me.

I just want them to be happy -- to know that happiness is not success but that success is happiness; to know that wasted time can be the most valuable time spent; to be aware that wasting time thinking unproductive thoughts is a waste of time that could be better wasted; ultimately, to know that most of the world is truly human-made illusion disguised as inevitability... truly drop the mind and culture-forged manacles that the fake life would have them wear.

If only.

No comments:

Post a Comment