Aging or Saging?

Once upon a time there were four friends who were inseparable when they were growing up.  None of them had started school yet and they spent their days together playing and having as much fun as they could.  Each of them had special gifts which were recognized by the others. No one friend felt superior because of their gifts but instead tried to share them with the others. One of the friends was a rabbit named Bolt.  Bolt was named after the famous sprinter Usain Bolt who could run like the wind. Bolt was so fast that no one could up with him and he would frequently take one of his other friends on an insane ride through the woods.  Round the trees, up the cliffs and down the gulleys. It was like a wild roller coaster ride with the wind and branches whipping around the rider and Bolt.

A second friend in the group was a young monkey named Reinhold who was named after the greatest Alpine climber in history Reinhold Messner.  Reinhold could climb any tree in the forest with either his hands or his tail.  He would swing from tree to tree with his eyes closed and when he let go, he would somehow fall so magically that before you could blink he was now swinging from another branch far off in the distance.  All of his friends loved to go for a ride with Reinhold because his acrobatics and maneuvers were so unpredictable.

Amphitrite was a fish.  The other friends had met Amphitrite on one of their journeys down to the sea for a drink of water. Amphitrite was named after the goddess queen of the sea and she was smart and graceful.  She was half mermaid and half fish and could outswim any creature in the sea.  She would take a friend for a ride on her back across the sea and plunge down into the depths past sunken ships, undersea mounts and vast schools of smaller brightly colored fish.  These trips were enjoyed by all because of the incredible differences they would find between the surface world and the world beneath the sea.  Amphitrite was also very intelligent and when any of her other friends had a problem they would come to Amphitrite for a solution.

The final four of the friends was an eagle named Felix who was named after the great base jumper and flyer Felix Baumgartner.  Felix was as fearless as his namesake and would ascend to unbelievable heights and then come straight down like a rocket.  At the last minute, he would turn and follow the contours of the land below him.  Felix could soar on an updraft or downdraft practically in his sleep.  When he wanted to accelerate, there was not another bird in the sky who could keep up with his speed.  Trips with Felix were always hair-raising to say the least.

Well, one day, the parents of the four friends, decided that it was time for them to start school.  Enough playing, now it was time to become serious and think about what they would do for the rest of their lives.  Swimming, running, climbing and flying were all well and good but they needed a more balanced education.  A Liberal Arts program was the trick.  The parents enrolled the four friends in the school taught by the wise old owl named Professor Harvard.  Professor Harvard had degrees in everything and was widely known as being the smartest animal in the forest. There was not a factoid, equation, puzzle, dilemma, mystery or riddle that Professor Harvard could not solve.  Professor Harvard was happy to enroll the four young students.  “We will make adults out of them yet and set them on the course to a prosperous and useful life.”

The school was organized into five classes: One for climbing, one for swimming, one for flying, one for running and one for literature.  It was understood that a well-rounded education was the key to prosperity and success.  Of course, everyone must know how to read since literature is the cornerstone of fairytales, Aesop Fables, Uncle Remus tales, Hans Christian Anderson stories, Winnie the Pooh stories and many other animal tales too numerous to mention.

Upon the first day of school Professor Harvard advised the new students that the curriculum would be rigorous and none could pass unless they completed their studies in each area.  Each student would be tested at the end of the class by a physical demonstration of their prowess. The best student would get an A. Next best would get a B, and so on.  The worst student would get an F for flunk and would need to take the class again. The literature test would be based on a written test where students would have to describe the moral in a series of well known tales.

Now some of the students were indeed worried about the curriculum but they were assured by all that if they only put their minds to it, set their goals high, did not let failure deter them, and thought positively they would have no problem with getting their diploma.

However, things did not work out so well for our four friends. By the end of the running class, Bolt was an A student, Reinhold a B, Felix a C and poor Amphitrite was given a F and told she must repeat the class.

By the end of the Flying Class, all but Felix were feeling very discouraged and frustrated. Try as they might, none of them could get the hang of flying.  Reinhold squeaked out a B although some thought his acrobatics were not really flying but it was decided to give him a B anyway. However, Bolt and Amphitrite were both colossal failures and were given F’s.  Amphitrite was now a straight F student.

In the climbing class, Felix got a B, while Reinhold received an A, Bolt managed a C but poor Amphitrite again received an F.  She was on the verge of dropping out but being a very smart person and wanting to fit into the world around her, she would not let her 3 straight F’s daunt her and finally she was rewarded for her perseverance.

When it came to the swimming class, Amphitrite received her first passing grade. Indeed she excelled in the class and received an A.  Felix, Reinhold and Bolt all were modest swimmers and managed to pass the class with C’s.

The final class was the most feared by all except for Amphitrite.  Most of the friends dreaded literature as their memories and reading skills were well below average. Amphitrite however loved to read and had no problem relating the stories to their intended morals. One example should suffice:

What is the moral of the following tale?

The Blind Man and the Cub – A Fable from Aesop

There was once a Blind Man who had so fine a sense of touch that, when any animal was put into his hands, he could tell what it was merely by the feel of it.  One day the Cub of a Wolf was put into his hands, and he was asked what it was.  He felt it for some time, and then said, “Indeed, I am not sure whether it is a Wolf’s Cub or a Fox’s: but this I know—It would never do to trust it in a sheepfold.” 

Amphitrite could quickly grasp the essence of each story and received an A in the literature class.  The other three friends could not seem to comprehend the meaning of the various tales and much to their regrets each received an F in this class.  Professor Harvard gave out the various grades and pointed out the option of summer school to each student.  None seemed overly excited about the prospect.

By the end of school, the four friends were no longer friends. None of them saw any fun continuing the activities that had previously meant so much to them.  Indeed, the various grades and tests they had been subjected to created feelings of inadequacy and superiority which further alienated them from each other. Thus, each friend went their own way in the world, never to see each other again.

Felix was killed when he collided with an airplane at 47,000 feet.  Amphitrite could not get over all of her F’s, became a drug addict and died of an overdose.  Reinhold felt mediocre and decided not to take any more risks in life. He was penniless and lonely when he died from drowning while trying to swim across a small pond. Bolt decided running was not that useful and became more of a slug and couch potato.  He would spend endless hours in front of the TV watching football and baseball games.  He was killed by a fox that caught him one day right outside his den.  He had become so fat and slow that he could not get back into his den before Mr. Fox caught him.

As we grow older, do we grow smarter, wiser, and sager or do we simply grow old and die?  What is education? What is school?  Are they the same?  What happens when we keep doing the same thing and expect different results?  In my next blog, I want to tell you about my Ph.D., my education, my schooling and my results.  I am planning to do 1 blog each week and they will be capricious.  What does Capricious mean and why Aging Capricious?   Please follow me for more stories, fables, myths and tall tales. 

Life is just beginning.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

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