A Crucial Lesson
You think you know, sonny? You don’t know! You don’t know! I know; I was there! I saw it all unfold and I could tell you every detail… of what? Of what? Of anything! Anything at all! I could tell you the color of the paint on the Titanic before it set sail, or what clouds feel like, or why you really need a chin! But you… you’ll never know. Even if I told you, you wouldn’t understand.
Why? Because you darn kids have no imagination anymore! Why, when I was a kid, we ran everywhere, boundless energy, didn’t care about the world beyond our sight, because there was a whole world within our sight! There were horses in the clouds, not just jumbo jets, and there were names for things like the prickly feeling you get on the back of your neck (which we called sassafras, because we liked the word), and the worst thing that could possibly happen was being swatted by your mother when you were home late.
Your world isn’t so different from mine – sure, yours has the Google and the iPads and the hippity-hop, but the real difference is in what we see and how we see it. I look at a train and see a marvel, a prime example of what people can do when they work together to create something! And you… what do you see? Something that gets you to school? That’s what it does, not what it is. I remember when kicking a can was fun, and… what? Why was it fun? See, there’s the thing. When I was your age, no one had to ask why kicking a can was fun. It just was! Why worry about the why? I’m not sitting here asking you why you like your hippity-hop! You just do, and that’s good enough for me – it should be good enough for you!
I’m tellin’ you, the knowledge I have can’t be found in books. Now, don’t get me wrong; books are great (especially when you can’t fall asleep – just pick up “Mein Kampf”, great cure for insomnia), but I guarantee you that no book will tell you how a stream tastes or why cotton candy only comes in two colors, or why you occasionally get a mutant Milk Dud! These things are important, but no one ever thinks of them, anymore, which is a weight on my heart. Imagine being the last guardian of sacred knowledge, the only one on Earth who had memorized the Torah and Green Eggs and Ham, and they would die with you. That, sonny, is how I feel when I look at your smiling, ignorant little face.
more by KENNY STONEMAN
photograph by Victor Bezrukov