I’ve been considering many a thing lately. Things well beyond the pay grade of my understanding and things I’ve probably overlearned in my efforts to. Have you ever over-learned something all the way to square one? My most obvious example (besides smoking myself sober, but that’s only relatable to the heathens) is when I learned a tricky 4-part harmony that was not the least bit natural to my ear. I played my part over and over, trying tirelessly to not slip into someone else’s. By the time I finally got it, it stuck for about half the day. When I later returned to it I couldn’t stick even a line of it. I had to step away for a couple days and when I finally revisited, it had all come back like a boomerang.
I think it’s fascinating that we can actually progress to the point of regressing. It’s a bit like saying a word so many times in a row that it sounds like a foreign language. I’ve actually been thinking of Daniel Keye’s insights in his book, Flowers for Algernon.
“The more intelligent you become the more problems you’ll have, Charlie.”
Maybe overdoing it isn’t the best way to retain, and many times (for me) rote isn’t enough. I prefer other methods for learning. I’m mostly a meaningful and associative learner, and oftentimes I require bizarre connotations for recalling. But thats how it sticks. This is why math is not my forte—I want to know the why behind the nonnegotiable. I connect with the why just as much as the answer.
So, with that train of thinking (incessant why after why) I mostly navigate the same tracks times infinity. The screeching of gears grinding to a halt, the churning of wheels accelerating—it’s as exhausting as it sounds. Eventually I’ll blow a mad whistle when it gets to be too much, letting out some steam.
As far as things beyond me, well, that’s most of the things. And it’s not for lack of trying to gain a grip on them. I have wrestled as far and wide as my being has capacity. Reminds me a bit of my childhood, throwing rocks from the high banks up north hoping I might actually make one across the river carved through it. Or how we used to whittle sticks to a sharp point and try to spear fish with them. Illusive. Some things just remain illusive, and I sit small on their precipice as they devour me with vastness. That should be enough for me to come to terms with living with the unknown—the things that are because they are—but I’m stubborn. And truthfully, I’m curious.
Not every moment of everyday life is this heady or weighty, but beneath each made bed is a messy trundle. There are attics and basements unexplored. There’s real estate that I have and never will fully occupy. But I keep wondering about the tapping overhead, about the scurrying down below. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to know, even while repeatedly resigning myself to the allotted living space I do life in. If I’m not satisfied with the answers given now, would I even make peace with the ones I don’t yet have?
“Because I want to see. I’ve got to know what’s going to happen while I’m still enough in control to be able to do something about it.”
Sometimes I imagine the trajectory of my life looking like some sort of spirograph art from my younger days. Truly, there are circles upon overlapping circles.
I’m probably better off fixing dinner and folding laundry. That’s not meant as self-deprecatory, but coming to the end of myself is a needed demotion. Eating the fruit born of the tree of knowledge only unveils another complex layer of yet even more unknowns. And so on and so forth unto endlessness. And what if in my dogged pursuit of such lofty things I’m actually over-learning (to the point of forgetting) the most essential parts? The most fundamental things that should be retained and built upon?
“Intelligence is one of the greatest human gifts. But all too often a search for knowledge drives out the search for love.”
I can only assume that many a genius mind may forget to pet their dog, or smell the roses, or admire a fading sunset. These lower functions are probably some of our highest joys. That is if we don’t miss the forest for the trees. And this is where my tracks intersect each time—right here in this bypass of sorts. The place where I choose to override all the parts that don’t make sense (and never will) as long as I’m wrapped in this limited flesh. So, back to the flash cards and drawing board of the most elementary things, and may I not push so hard to learn every why. May I learn to rest in the “just because.” Nobody likes that answer, yet as a parent I know why that Ace is played.
Just because, kiddo, and that’s all you need to know.
“P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.”