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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clouds Fly Now

[Norma photo]

A popularly accepted sign that an older person is about to garrulate are the words, "Young people nowadays..." It is a pattern, just as children tend to move their thoughts beyond available data, just as I often say things I haven't thought of yet. We progress in life through free playground association, underwear arguments with school roommates, brittle tête-à-têtes with colleagues, to finally leaning close and asking, "what was that?" But there is no really reliable forecast of impending garrulity. That is a myth.

Young people nowadays have it way harder than my generation. Why is that? I remember, 40-50 years ago, we had a huge number of young people who desired, above all, happiness --happiness for everybody. Then it attenuated to happiness for themselves because not everybody could be happy about everything. Then they grew up into very loud churches and subcultures that desired their own happiness over the unhappiness of others and paradise was lost. Sorry stuff, but kids now fear for their lives.

Young people nowadays aren't safe. They'd like to be. They'd like to achieve the same sustainable, egalitarian society all generations want. But we are stuck on Heraclitus who observed, "All beasts are driven to the pasture with blows." This does not improve the disposition of new Utopians. Young people are not beasts, they are human. We are human. What humans possess is a capacity for nonsense, for imagination, qualities that can thwart designs of corporate voices in the head and brutalities of misrule. Imaginative nonsense can lead us places for which defensive logic is sometimes too ponderously awkward.

Young people nowadays, to them I suggest, consider the clouds. Consider the herds of them making their way inland from the sea. They are heading toward distant mountains, on which to resolve into streams, join rivers, enrich the land and return to the sea once more. An ongoing cycle, but it too has changed since I was young. Clouds fly now. Time was, clouds had to walk inland. I'd see them plodding along lonely roads with gravel and weeds sticking to their foggy feet. They moved slowly, wearily, often minus parts of anatomy that snagged on fences or got sheared by a passing truck. They had dangerous work.

In the evening you could always tell when a cloud was knocking on the door. There wasn't a knock so much as a chuff-chuff, which was all their soft fists could manage. They'd ask for a glass of water. Sometimes they'd want directions to a nice pasture to lie down in, which was sad because they never got up --but it was how we got vernal pools so we accepted it. Then, by and by, something changed.

Somewhere, maybe out on the ocean, a cloud leaned forward and fell in a certain way and, as you and I sometimes do in dreams, began to fly. Clouds, like young people nowadays, are natural rubberneckers and once they get the principle of a thing they do it too. Before long, all clouds got to flying, like the ones in the picture above, and they arrived whole and safe upon the ranges of the earth. Young people nowadays, go thou and do likewise.


  1. Excellent Geo. Young folks have defined, are defining the world according to thier own observations and tempi and yet they are often forced to do it under the stick of their elders who persist is defining the world they way it was when they were youngsters.

    Life changed forever, for most of us, when the mushroom cloud appeared over Japan. And yet it changed long before that, when the first scientist pondered an easier way to destroy a city.

    Then it changed again when Sputnik lit up the sky. But that change happened many years before.

    It is changing right now as some kid is dreaming of doing something which is unimaginable to the closed minds of the unenlightened.

    Things take as long as they take. Immediacy is one of our problems, the idea that you just push a button and out it comes. That's because so much of our lives these days are push button lives. Even this computer I'm writing on was a total fantasy when I was 12 years old.

    Last winter I was walking to the store one day and came across a bunch of kids having a snow ball fight. I found something comforting about that. Those boys and girls could go inside and play war games at the speed of light, and yet they were enjoying something the cave men probably did.

    Thank you for a very thought provoking post.


  2. You're welcome, DB. And thank YOU!


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