A Questionable Sub-sect of Society

In Washington, lots of people think Big Important Thoughts—or at least that’s what they tell us. But, as it turns out, many of these types are actually consumed with thinking small thoughts, drawn from narrow world views and ideologies; they proclaim to anyone who will listen that they have the answers the rest of us need to live by. Unfortunately, our elected leaders (insert throat clearing here) are drawn from this clutch. But the faction that intrigues me the most—the collection of people that has the greatest potential—are the ones who ask questions, not spout great answers. There they are, wondering around Washington and elsewhere, not quite sure what to make of the mess they see.

How about you? Do you wonder around?

By my guess, the answer is yes. Re-booters are a wonderful, wondering lot; they ask questions and struggle with the answers. At times, it can be a challenge to have so many puzzles floating through our minds: am I living the life I want to live? Am I the person I’d hoped to be? Have I done right by those I care about? You know, those types of questions, the little ones, for little brains–not suited to life on Capitol Hill.

From where I stand, at the crossroads of Washington and oblivion, it’s a small sub-sect of individuals who burden themselves with questions such as these—separate and apart from any of the dilemmas about how to govern this great nation. The way I see it, most folks don’t want to wonder around Washington or anyplace else, for that matter. They have zero curiosity about what life means.

In the most recent season of Downton Abbey, Lord Gillingham returns to Downton and announces that he has broken off his engagement to the poor, unsuspecting Mabel Lane Fox pursuant to a trip traipsing across the moors of Scotland, thinking about his life. What makes this scene especially delightful is Countess Grantham’s reaction where she squeamishly retorts, “No life appears rewarding if you think about it too much.” Oh, dear! Perish the thought. But, I think the Countess’ comment reflects the opinion of most of humanity: nothing much good ever comes from pondering one’s own existence. No wondering around. Ever. Bad idea. You’ve been warned.

Except for re-booters, of course. We spend most of our lives wondering around—it interests us and we learn surprising things from our explorations. I mean, there’s David Thoreau emerging from the brackish waters of Walden Pond to observe, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats.” I guess 19th century types didn’t relish asking questions about their lives anymore than our current day journeymen do.

Personally, I swing between wondering around and walling off any such contemplations. Too much navel gazing results in despair and paralysis for the best of us, let alone me. Too little results in, well, I bet you can think of your own examples of people you know who have decided that they can’t afford to let their minds wonder this way…Sort of tragic, isn’t it? How terrible to be so afraid of the answers they might find. It’s important to remember that not everyone asks the sorts of questions we do–re-booters are a rare breed.

It must be nice, to be one of that group who believe they have all the solutions, who speak in declarative sentences and with an authoritative tone. But, fear not! Conviction does not elude us re-booters because even though we may mull over much, unsure if what we’re doing makes sense, we can rest easy in the certainty that we’ve thought about it. We cared enough to notice, to ask, and to really think about the answers we found. If only they’d do that on Capitol Hill…

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One Response to “A Questionable Sub-sect of Society”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Good one

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