John F Waterman
The works of John F Waterman

Blog 04.25.17 April 26, 2017

Hello again, folks.

Change is an ineffable part of life. Part of that change for humans is growing older (with any luck at all). Aging isn’t all bad, no matter that in this culture–as in many others past and present–it is youth that is worshiped and celebrated while age is despised and often disparaged.

I’m of an age where I’ve probably seen a few more sunsets than I’ll see sunrises, barring some unforeseen advance in medicine, and there are some things I can’t do anymore (plus a few I ought not do any more, at that!). It’s not as big a deal as our society’s worship of youth and youthful exploits makes it out. ‘Every day above ground’, like we always said in the Army. Sometimes we forget what a simple and awesome joy it is to just walk upon the world and among its wonders (and people!) no matter how one believes they got here. The past informs us and the future draws us inexorably along the track of our lives, and both have great importance to any but the extremely young and old. Cherishing what we have in the present, though, is the most important thing we possess as thinking, conscious beings.

That being said, existential concerns tend to consume our attention and time to a great extent. Those of us who enjoy the fruits of a modern technically advanced civilization do not often have to worry about where our next meal comes from or where we’ll sleep tonight–but still we worry a lot. We share a certain feeling of powerlessness that has always been the lot of humans. Our distant ancestors (and some people today, certainly) had concerns that loomed right before them; hunger, safety, health, security, all of which had to be confronted personally on a daily basis lest they fail and perish. Many of these factors were intractable, forcing our fore-bearers to find workarounds and compromises and just plain accept their utter impotence to affect most of the forces at play in their lives.

Today, our problems–in the ‘developed’ world, at least–are different in detail if of exactly the same nature as our ancestors suffered. We worry about existential matters like the health and future of our society and the planet it lives on instead of the plot of land they tilled or the coming of the rains. We are gravely concerned about the actions of people who live thousands of kilometers away instead of those sketchy folks who live over the next ridge. Some of us look decades and even centuries into the future instead of next month, year, or the next generation. Humans will always worry, and should always worry. We should never forget, though, that we are mortals; our reach will always exceed our grasp in things both concrete and abstract.

The most important gift we have, however, is our ability to apprehend and experience what is happening now. Don’t forget that, especially today.

Keep striving, folks.


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