"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

                --Archilochus

Glenn Reynolds:
"Heh."

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."




I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem



Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's a Wonder

"I’m very lucky I didn’t hurt myself considering how clueless I was when I started."

Some time after his 60th year -- about the time the chaotic 19th century gave way to what was to be the murderous 20th -- Henry Adams sat down to reflect on his life. The result, The Education of Henry Adams, ostensibly asks what he has learned in the course of his life, and purports to conclude: not much.

The getting of education, the acquisition of knowledge, the accomplishment of competence, is a young person's task. Ignorance and lack of perspective is not the fault of youth, but instead the natural condition of youth. Had a young person a modicum of actual wisdom, and the wit or leisure for true reflection and rumination, withdrawal from the race that is the world would be the likely conclusion.

"I’m very lucky I didn’t hurt myself considering how clueless I was when I started."

David Lottes lives, as near as we can tell, somewhere in Illinois:
I live on about four acres of wooded land that had not been maintained for many decades. Very little effort had been made to manage the forest. Long dead trees were scattered around the property. It was dangerous to walk in parts of the woods and the dead trees were damaging the live ones.

At first the goal was to clean up the woods and make it safer. After a quick survey it became clear that I had a huge job ahead of me.

We do have a fire pit we use for the occasional cookout but there was no way we would burn anywhere near this amount of wood before it turned to mud. I have always been interested in frontier and pioneer life so without a clue of what I was getting myself into I decided to try building a cabin.

I honestly didn’t believe I would end up with anything but a woodpile in the end so I didn’t want to spend much money on it. I scavenged most of the materials I couldn’t make myself.
The young man sets out to survey his world, that is the tiny corner of the world over which he might reasonably expect to exercise some control: "It was dangerous to walk in parts of the woods . . . ." Oh my, yes. In truth, it's dangerous to walk most anywhere in the woods. But for youth danger is dismissed, and for fear is substituted the illusion of understanding, ". . . it became clear that I had a huge job ahead of me."

"I’m very lucky I didn’t hurt myself considering how clueless I was when I started."

How fortunate for us all that the young dismiss the gloomy counsel of the wise: ". . . so without a clue of what I was getting myself into I decided to try building a cabin." How foolish is youth to charge into the business of life so unprepared and ill-equipped.

And in the end, is this success? This tiny, rude imperfect thing? Ahead is rain, snow, wind, freeze, termites, implacable vines, rot, destruction, chaos.  Give the world a bit of time, and your life will be erased.

But by then the young, ambitious, ignorant, foolish tree-feller and cabin builder will be gone, lost in the wisdom and reflection of age.  "Perhaps it's best if I don't try to explain it to the youngsters," he might conclude, "not that they'd listen to me anyway."

"I’m very lucky I didn’t hurt myself considering how clueless I was when I started."

Comments on "It's a Wonder"

 

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