The trouble with getting old, if you’re not careful, is coming to believe that you’ve got it all figured out. By the time you get old, the temptation to figure it out has been with you a long time. Once you start believing that you’ve got it all figured out, it feels like a relief…and a reward for all that trying to figure it out.
But you can’t ever figure it out, and you really don’t want to start thinking you can, much less should. Figuring it out takes the mystery and suspense out of living. And the adventure of trying to figure it out. It seems that suicides are people who come to believe they’ve got it all figured out.
A lot of my old friends act as though they’ve got it figured out — their kids, politics, business, the Cubs, relationships, faith, art, the Middle East, economics, the Internet. Sometimes I think I do, too.
But it’s so tempting. There are all these deep and puzzling conundrums that have kept you thinking and worrying for so many years, decades really. It surely must be possible in my “three score and ten” to get something figured out. Doesn’t that seem reasonable?
When I was an angst-ridden college student in the sixties, I thought, “What if I know everything? What if I get it all figured out and it’s all bad? Won’t life be unbearable? Won’t the only option at that point be to end it all? I’m thankful that from somewhere, I got the good sense to realize that there will always be something more to learn. And interesting stuff, too. As long as I could reasonably expect to live, nature and humanity would always be able to provide some new field of thought, area of study, and puzzle to ponder. Whew! I suppose this seems obvious, but you know it’s hard to see new possibilities when you think you’ve got it all figured out.
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