When you are young, you dream of great accomplishments, wealth, recognition for greatness and other noble and worthy causes. Then you get older, but older is not the problem. As the son of David exclaimed, “’knowledge increases sorrow.’ It is not the fact that you got older, and more jaded by life, what really happened is that you gained more knowledge. With more understanding, you see the realities and therefore see the sorrow. As a youngster, I looked up to a particular teacher. When I was older I saw that teacher and understood her problems, and they were many. Behind that excitement over the subject that she taught, was a life of pain and regret. She got a temporary assignment to teach at my school that year, she did not get the full time gig. She went on to another place, I have no idea where. I met a childhood hero once, and upon meeting him, staring into the vacant expression in his eyes, realized that he really was just a charade, and empty shell of a man who only pretended to be the image of himself. The hero was only what was said of him and nothing more.
We extend youthful exuberance into adulthood, holding some of that for a long time. We learn and discover more, figuring out how things are actually working and why things are they way the are. You realize behind every person, every success, every hero is a trail of tears, a false bravado and we learn that even the greatest souls go to bed at night worried about who they are and what they might become. No, money did not bring the ability for calm and silent reflection without the pains of concern. In fact money brought more sorrow. Each decade, I might have made more than the 10 year younger self would have not thought possible, but regrettably, as I gained in influence as I gained in experience the knowledge that came with it brought heavier burdens and greater sorrows.
We have this false sense that people that get to the pinnacle, come to some divine assurance, their calling and election made sure. However, usually, the get to the pinnacle only to find a better view of the destruction left in their wake, the larger more real mountains to climb and the view distorted by obstruction. They understand more, certainly, but that understanding comes with a price tag. Seek for more, certainly, but have clarity in your understanding that life is struggle and the more you know about it, the more you take on, the more you will have to increase your capacity for sorrow. There are religions that teach of arriving, at some point through grief and pain, where the sorrow can fade away to a state of bliss. Perhaps that is true, but I have learned more and more that to seek for that is vanity. Happiness is all around us, found under the rocks and brambles of our everyday lives. Little discoveries here and there that make every moment of our lives precious.
Maybe we will find rest in the courts above, or on the pinnacle of a mountain separated from earthly cares, but the more I learn about how things actually work I think I will find out the truth if I ever do behold the face of a divine being. I will find one who has the ability to absorb sorrow, to understand it, to feel it, to experience it and to feel it’s impact. A being that could absorb that and still function is probably what we are really going to find if that truth is all revealed to us. Until that time, I now understand that as I understand more, accept more responsibility, raise a family, care for more people around me, learn how people think and how they feel that the one constant is sorrow. Ever increasing, ever expanding. As infinite as potential is, so is the sorrow of loss, of regret, of opportunity missed.