I’m grateful to the Romans for naming this month for the God Janus. He was the deity whose two faces looked back and ahead. Exactly as any traveler on Planet Earth should do in these next few weeks. Where have we come from; where do we seem to be heading?
From many generations of greeting Chicago January’s, a legion of impressions and conclusions come to my mind. But none so imposing as the intriguing notion that some of us elders have about the celebrated “Manual Of Life.” Like the Ark of the Covenant, we suspect its existence somewhere, because we have all lived out its words. Yet none of us has ever actually seen it. Touched it. Turned its ancient pages.
At our age we are convinced that whoever were to find it and share it, its lessons would change the world. Perhaps more even than the Bible, the Talmud, and all the words of The Prophet, the Buddha, and Steven Spielberg combined.
It is our conviction — when we meet every January over a cozy Pasta-and-Wine dinner on Michigan Avenue — that the Manual was written with the wisdom of the ages. It is a magnificent travelogue of human life, penned to serve any young reader eager to understand “what it all means.”
There is a chapter for each stage of life, which brilliantly makes clear what the reader should expect just up ahead. A knowledge beseeched and pursued by all the kings and emperors, prophets and popes of history. Not to mention by every member of every family who woke up in Chicago this morning.
There is only one problem!
The text in each chapter cannot be translated until just after you’ve lived that stage of your life, and are looking back with just enough perspective to think to yourself: “Oh, now I see, now it makes more sense, now I get it.”
Wait, there’s a second problem!
If you yearn to share these wisdoms with the young in order to spare them some of your mistakes before they begin the journey…
….you discover that at this age they simply cannot translate the words.
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