For too long I gave other people, collectively, way too much credit. While I had this pretentious habit of thinking in Capital Letters, I had this more troubling tendency to Believe that somewhere there were these Someones that actually Knew The Right Way things Should be Done. Maybe it was the Roman Catholic upbringing...
Maybe it was just growing up in Texas.
The trip from 20 to 30 was a slow spiral from coffee-shop idealist to bar-stool cynic. Grand Ideals dropped into lower case and Big Ideas slipped into what was available that night. Intellectually, I went relativist, subjectivist...I have even stood accused of being existentialist. But here's the weird thing...while my head let go of the big ideas of Right and Good and God and Beauty, I never gave up the notion that there were people out there that had, in fact, figured it all out. Sitting in sumptuous deep leather chairs somewhere, where dim lights still reached high ceilings, Capitalized Words Were Still Bantered Over Priceless Cognacs.
I guess I had abandoned the idea that it would be me that would ever decipher those big things, but I never let go of the idea that some folks actually could, perhaps even had. I hadn't given up on the idea that some thought in capital letters, I had just given up on the idea that I was one of them. I remained an idealist. Just a really, really shitty idealist.
Maybe it was just leaving Texas for California.
This is not a new tale, merely my own pulling back of Oz's Curtain, of busting through a candy factory roof after witnessing marvelous rivers of chocolate .
But from 30 until now, well, I have seen some things. I have met a couple Oz's, chatted up a Wonka or two, even hyped a couple dirty rivers until we all believed them chocolate. Some days I am even expected to slip behind the curtain myself and flick the levers that sustain the illusion. Truth be told, I think conspiracy theorists give humanity too much credit. That level of complex, sustained evil may simply be well-beyond any concatenation of us goofballs. Look, even the Wall Street weenies couldn't make it 30 years, and the best and brightest of Hollywood couldn't even bring a solid TV conspiracy show to a coherent close. Even when given a second chance.
The fact is, The Illuminati, well, they're just a bunch of well-meaning idiots.
They is us.
I've riffed on the humans-ain't-smart-enough-to-pull-off-a-Dan-Brown-novel theme for a few years now, completing my own personal lower-casing of pretty much the entire evolution of humanity. It's kept my humility on a working par with my views of those above me. But I have been taken down several pegs lately by my kids that are spinning up their views of what they wanna to be when they grow up, and their stories are all written in Title Case. (Even when the Big Idea is driving a street sweeper because if the roads aren't clean the cars will crash...)
And cynics make for shitty dads.
So, a million blog posts lie in how I have come to feel a little more worthy of these Big Red Letter conversations with my half-size muses, but let me cut to the chase. I'll loop back over time, but it goes a little something like this...
A king needs his jester . I'm beginning to believe the best kings could play both roles.
(The best queens probably already knew this. I expect them to tell me so.)
And really, in the end, is it all really anything more than something like...
Find excellence. Then dance.
(And PS, my sister is much better at this mix than I. Always has been. Hats off and a deep bow to K8.)
Rejection (and the four paths)
15 hours ago