Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On (Not) Seeing a Robin on (Not) the First Day of Spring

We now live in a world where there is so much information available to us we can scarcely keep abreast. There once was a time when you read about 50 classic books and the daily paper and you were set. And "set" meant you could build some kind of edifice on this common stock of knowledge, a life, a position in relationship to what was considered the "it" of eternity. Of course if that position was too different from the acceptable orthodox position you could be burned at the stake. So it wasn't some sort of utopia. But whatever you did there was a kind of set game that you could master, however you might.

Today that world has disappeared. It's hard to get anyone to agree on what 50 books you might need to know to master the world of ideas today. And some don't believe you should read very much at all. Those are our modern barbarian kith and kin. On the other hand there are hundreds of thousands of books you could read, many more the number of articles and essays on the net, in the libraries, periodicals, everywhere. Then there are the e-mails, the social media, texting, the endless cell phone messages. To keep on top of it all one multitasks like a madman. I do.

And yet one has to stop sometimes and wonder, if we ever did catch up, where would we be? Where are we right now, humanity? And why are we here? I don't have a set answer for that.

And here on a lovely day in early spring I look out my office window and see continuity. The seasons whirl, the greening of branches, the songs of the birds, along with the grind of the garbage trucks compacting the "recycling" and the sounds of planes overhead, and traffic from a fairly close highway system.

The doorbell may be on the way out (cell phone users call you to say "I am here outside your door!") but the spring sunlight isn't.

We live. We can't catch up. There's no longer any need for it. Because "ahead" doesn't mean much. So we should take a moment. And stop.