We chatted for awhile.
I keep fully attentive to what we were talking about — until we sort of drift off into a quiet time.
I should have re-focused my attention on my mantra at that time.
Instead, I got lost in reverie.
I observed my mind wafting away upon a whirligig of comings and goings.
And I liked it so much, I let its wandering continue on off yonder.
Memories arose of other picnics, spinning flickering delightful fantasies, all the way back to childhood, times when mom and dad took us to the country on Sunday afternoons for picnics.
They were always followed by a “walk in the woods,” as dad called them.
Golly, how I loved those old days!
They were highlights in an otherwise not very pleasant childhood.
Then I spoiled this good-time reverie by becoming philosophical.
How strange it seemed that I’m still today that same Bill that picnicked with dad and mom and my sister, June, eighty years ago.
Just think about it!
With all that has changed in my life — my years in Boy Scouts, navy, college, a wild wonderful career, marriage, raising children, retirement – traveling to many parts of the world, hiking miles and miles of trails, climbing mountain peaks, reading and writing books, theater, opera.
And I’m still Bill!
Still that Bill who was a boy picnicking and going for walks in the woods with mom and dad and is now 89 in this creaky, old body!
Logically, that is preposterous!
How is it possible?
It’s not just my imagination.
Nor something I’ve dreamed up.
The fact is — I cannot deny it — I am the same Bill that I always was — for all those years.
Going back even further, at least back to 1928 when my mom gave me life.
But, you know — (I like these philosophic meanderings) — I must have been me even before I was born.
I mean, while still in the comfort of mom’s tummy.
Or else, who was that kicking around in there wanting out?
So when was i not Bill?
And where will Bill go when this crumbling old body quits?
Just a “poof” of quiet air in the last breath?
Like the running goes when the runner stops running?
Does that not seem even more preposterous than Bill being the same eighty-nine year-old Bill that was Bill taking his first breath of fresh air?
I know, i’m wandering around now in a philosophic quagmire.
It raises other notions while pondering the persistent presence of Bill.
There are more things that have persistent presence, different from earthly things that continue to change all around them.
Natural laws, for instance.
They always seem to remain the same, while everything else continues to change.
Gravity was here long before Bill came along.
And it seems as if it will still be pulling at things long after Bill’s body belly’s up.
Same with electricity and magnetism.
And I can’t image the earth not ever turning from day to night to day, week after week, season after season — except in someone’s sophisticated computer model.
Some things seem destined to change, while others to remain as they are — forever.
Can you imagine that two plus two won’t always be four?
And my favorite songs will never change no matter who sings them.
I can imagine them laying fallow for centuries until someone comes upon them and sings them again.
There seems a certain permanency in so many of our taken-for-granted ideas, like the simple, old “circle.”
Twenty-five hundred years ago Plato said that a circle can be given different names,defined in dictionaries, drawn, spoken and thought.
But none of these are the essential “circle” itself.
For circle is an idea that is the same today as it was to Plato.
And it will be the same twenty-five hundred years from now, even if there are no human beings here to draw circles.
So what is it about these invisible, intangible forces and ideas that seem to be more permanently fixed in their places — “somewhere” — here in the universe.
Grasping that, seems as preposterous as trying to grasp this what is this Bill that I cannot deny gives direction to the writing of this post?
Let me make it even more commonplace.
Everyone of us has “Ideals” about how “things” ought to be, but aren’t.
And each of us believes his or her ideal is better than other people’s ideals.
I loved studying the history of the French Revolution — how guys who thought they agreed with other guys’ ideals were murdered by those guys for not agreeing with them.
And then those guys were murdered by other guys who thought their ideals were not as good as theirs, and then they too were murdered by other guys with whom they thought their ideals were the same, but not the guys who murdered them.
And on and on, until like Chairman Mao said, the guy who holds the gun’s ideals prevail — whether you agree with that guy or not.
But none of those ideals are real.
They are in some mysterious somewhere which none of us can describe.
And yet, we all give our own ideals the force of power as strong as that might be.
In fact, none of us can actually describe our own ideals, except in fuzzy ways.
When we try to put our ideal into words we immediately see that we still have “not got it right.”
So where are these ideals other than in our own heads?
Why are mine so different from yours?
Why can’t we all agree about what they are?
These are actually more mysterious to me than who the Bill is that I am.
I guess that is because I’ve been living with Bill for all these years.
And I haven’t been as familiar with anyone’s ideals, even my own, as I am familiar with Bill.
Hiding Behind the Veil
If this has made you dizzy, I’m sorry.
You shouldn’t have read this far.
If you did, I think its’ okay to step into this quandary.
It may be just a quagmire of words, and have nothing to do with real reality.
But, you got to admit, it is kind of fun to get out there with these words now and then, isn’t it?
Sort of like trying to figure out a Rubik Cube, that’s cubes keep changing colors.
If I haven’t turned you away all together. And you still want to visit my blog — finding some of my more serious posts, then why don’t you add your name to my email list to get notices whenever I post?
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