Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Clouds Fly Now
A popularly accepted sign that an older person is about to garrulate are the words, "Young people nowadays..." and "Time was...". It is a pattern, just as children extend their thoughts beyond available data, just as I often say things I haven't thought of yet. We progress in life from free playground repartee to underwear arguments with college roommates, then brittle tête-à-têtes with colleagues, to finally leaning close and asking, "eh!? 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. Time was, I remember, 40-50 years ago, we had a huge number of young people who wanted, above all, happiness --happiness for everybody. Then it attenuated to happiness for themselves because not everybody could be happy about everything. Then they grew 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 safe, sustainable 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. Humans possess 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 herds of them making their way inland from the sea. They are heading toward distant mountains to resolve into streams, join rivers, enrich the land then 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 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 high ranges of the earth. Young People Nowadays, go thou and do likewise.