January 2013

          I admit it.  I am now old.  I am 69 years old, and anyone of that age is actually old.  Society likes to put a veneer on it and deny it politely, saying, “Not old;  just senior.”  But it would be actually silly to deny it.  I am now old.

          Not now am I going to talk about the other aspect of being old—the maladies, the missing friends and parents, all the other stuff of being old.  I don’t like that stuff, but what really makes me angry is the loss of everything I know.

          I devoted my life consciously to gathering knowledge.  I learned rather early to go for lots of the important things, and I worked to get that knowledge.  I read, I studied, and I listened and thought a whole lot.  Along the way, I also gathered, to a good amount, a set of hints of what I was missing.  Some of those hints led me to know more.  Some I missed, but today at 69, I know a whole lot.

          I not only have a vast store of knowledge, but I also have powerful analytic skills.  I worked gaining them, too.  I can look at any question, complex or not, and know exactly how to search for aspects of the question, how to order the aspects, and how to formulate an answer with a more than even likelihood of being correct.  I even go back and check over my findings, and what is more, I revisit my findings over years, refining as I go. 

          I used to practice a kind of hidden false self indulgence where I was not yet sure that I knew anything.  This was my concept of humility.  But, in the last few years, I can finally put that aside and declare and actually accept that I do know a whole lot.  Of course, in the ultimate sense, I know that neither I nor any other human being can actually know anything.  But, a step down from that lofty philosophical perch, down into ordinary reality, I now know, and can say that I know, a whole lot.  It is a very satisfying feeling.

          At age 69, however, what really makes me angry is that all that knowledge and all that powerful analytic ability is too soon due to disappear.  As any wide receiver in football knows, too, the sound of loud footsteps are rapidly approaching me, and hearing them in the form of one of my maladies acting up, I get even more angry.  I do not want to take a crack back block and be trucked off the field, never to return–all my knowledge going, too.

          In many ways, I have come to terms with dying, but I remain very upset that all my hard won knowledge and abilities will go up in smoke with my dead body.  I know they have value, but there is no way I can pass them on.  That is partly true because I gained all that with my own effort;  no one handed them to me (and I would not have taken anything like that anyway).  That means that even if I could somehow hand them off, very few would be taken up by others and even then, taken up with mistakes or tried and dismissed.  All of them are helplessly trapped inside me and can never come out, certainly not effectively.

          Oh sure, I could write, and I do, but I can not communicate the full flavor, the depth, nor the many interconnections of what I know.  I am sure what I have stored and can accurately manipulate is valuable, but it will cease to exist in one final moment—all gone.

          Can anyone blame me for being a bit angry?


About Charles Henry Harpole

Retired college teacher of cinema studies and film-making. Film Dept/Program founder and administrator. Buddhist. Amateur "ham" radio operator, HS0ZCW. Prepper evaluator
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