Among the dangers of getting older is getting bored. The I’ve-seen-it-all-before syndrome is rampant among the gin-playing gents in local senior homes and the whispering widows at local weddings. To their credit, they’re often right. To their shame, they could be missing the point.
I dimly recall how as a youngster I could never find anything much wrong with the movies the critics were panning. Now I can rarely find anything much right. I’m obviously succumbing. Take the morning news which I can predict with virtual certainty: Rumors of war…terrorist plot foiled…anti-American demonstrations…starlet in rehab…stunning new prescription promise…mob museum opens in Vegas…local school scores plummet…another book on why Jefferson really loved his slave, why Lincoln really was killed, why FDR really knew about Pearl Harbor beforehand, oh and why Rasputin really was a nice guy after all.
Once you’ve been around the bend a few times, you suspect some great editor-in-the-sky recycles these stories every 90 days or so. The sign on his or her desk reads: There’s nothing new under the sun, but you’ve got to keep them guessing!
So is there a point to all this or not…? The gents and I kinda think there is. It’s in the very unvarying rhythms to our daily world. So unvarying at their core as to become universals. Universals which have never really changed from the day we lost the lease on Eden: “Earning our bread by the sweat of our brow”…”There will be wars and rumors of war”…”Expectation is the root of all heartache” … “Give every man your ear, but few your voice”…”Holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal” …”Ambition is the last refuge of failure”…”Cowards die many times, the valiant but once”…”A jug fills up drop by drop”…”A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval”…”Ahh, women.They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.”
Every one of these universal thoughts was penned hundreds of years before this morning’s headlines. And yet are these not more than news, but rather news-you-can-use? Arguably the best thing about getting older is starting to understand the universal Human Condition. If you do, chances are you’ll never have to read another newspaper again.
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