Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Numbers Game

Among the qualities that contribute to a definition of you, one has persisted over the years, circling about you like a house fly or mosquito you are not quite able to bat away.  

In one-word terminology, that term is naive.  But no matter how many words you add to provide mitigation, the fact remains:  You've always leaned toward believing much of which you read.

This is not to suggest that you do not question.  In fact, another definition of you could well be cynical, while yet another could be doubting, neither of these so much on the misanthropic side so much as questioning of printed or uttered information presented as facts.  

Thus you are, at the same time an apparent polar opposite of the cynic, not questioning individual motives, rather agreeing with printed statements, unless they appear in some tainted and obvious source.

This polarity between naivete and cynicism has been with you for much of your reasoning life.  While you consider the applicable boundaries of that aspect of your emotional and intellectual landscape, you find it necessary to work toward pinning down the extent of your reasoning life, by which you mean those years in which you attempted to sort your frame of mind and your frame of unlearned, reflexive behavior.

The actual numbers associated with your age suggest the possibility of a rich, long reasoning life, enhanced by well-orchestrated and various experiences, just as the length of time you've been reading fiction or driving automobiles suggests rich and valuable experiences.  

If those suggestions withstood rigorous logic, you'd be a different person.  Those suggestions are not interlocking Leggo pieces, they are in fact mountain goat leaps of logic.  You are not the wise and disciplined person you would otherwise be.  You are instead more disciplined in that binary of naive and cynical.

This is not altogether a bad thing.  You recognize the state and its symptoms.  You are able to see maps of the polarity within you.  You are able to laugh at the irony it produces all about you.  You are able in most cases to be able to latch on to another defining quality you have to a significant degree to the point where you seldom question it.  Even when you feel drained, depleted, scarcely able to complete complex sentences, much link two or more of them toward some defining statement, you are confident that you will be more engaged and enthused tomorrow.

Tomorrow is one of those binary terms, an abstraction.  In a statistical sense, you stood a better than average chance of achieving the age you now carry about with you.  The number of tomorrows you have left is governed by statistic of a different sort than the availability of tomorrows you had fifty years ago.  At one extreme, you could have followed the elder brother you never knew into the shadowy world of SIDS.  Indeed, had he not preceded you, had he survived that plateau, there might well have not been a you to consider such potentials for the abstraction of tomorrow.

You've worked out for yourself the calculus of disregarding the potential of a limited supply of tomorrows and the ratio of probability based on your age.  Instead, you've used your current states of naivete and cynicism to construct a metric based on your awareness of enthusiasm.  

So far as you are concerned, enthusiasm is the equivalent of Tiger Balm salve or some analgesic ointment such as Bengay (C).  Enthusiasm irons out the cramped muscles, the flights of disappointment, the recognition that things take longer.  When you do those things that don't take longer, you need more time to recover from doing them than you did fifty years ago.

One of the benefits of longevity is the attendant experience that causes you, at some point, to question the validity of what you read, whether that reading material is fiction or nonfiction.  Each aspect is a presentation of information.  Rereading story and essay you may have read several times often allows you to see things you might have missed.  This is a direct result of asking distrustful questions about story and nonfiction you have read in recent times.

By your account, this makes you a difficult entity to pin down, unless, of course, the pinner thinks to start with your enthusiasm.  Not seeing that, the one who attempts to pin you down is left with the humor, which you see and the pinner may not.

Because of the remaining traces of naivete, you may not be the person you might have wished to become, but there is some satisfaction in being told to act your age, then seeing in your accusers' eyes the doubt of what age that act to act on truly is.

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