Saturday, October 10, 2009


There are times during the maturation of individuals when the devices employed to achieve a new level of personal responsibility and understanding must be shed like a chrysalis to continue progress toward an independent life of informed personal choices. Parents must take the training wheels off their kid’s bicycles once the evolving confidence they gave the child becomes cramped in the restricted mobility that kept them safe while learning. This release from the tether of apron strings must continue throughout one’s life lest the adventure of curiosity’s quest grow barnacles moldering in some snug harbor tied up to a dock made from theories harvested inland and milled to lumber now saturated in conviction as a preservative against the natural changes wrought by the same sea of the unknown the mind has ceased to sail.

The movie Devil’s Playground demonstrated an element to the wisdom of the Amish community that pleasantly surprised and further intrigued me. When the children have completed their required education at the age of thirteen, they are cut loose from all civic and religious requirements and support to go out into the great unknown of the entire rest of the planet equipped only with the experience of their life within the enclave shelter of the Amish reality tunnel.

They are essentially kicked out of the daily life without scorn and may retain their family’s room and board, but may return to the fold only when voluntarily declaring their undying devotion to the Amish prophecy. It’s training wheels removed from life so experience may be tested against the wisdom of their early education with no requirement that it even be applied. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a civilization or religion displaying such wisdom, much less such confidence in itself as justified by the eighty-five to ninety percent who return to the community. This after periods of years out here, unless of course, that early training only created Manchurian Candidates of them and they really couldn’t stay gone. I can certainly relate to their revulsion at in-yer-face capitalism’s disposable consumption culture and preference for life with more reverence for nature. It’s determined the choice I’ve made without a community to return to, although mentors in the community of the mind, diamonds in the rough, tough school of hard knocks and mind locks, are lighting my drop out along the way.

This metaphor of training wheels evolving into retardants of the very abilities they honed if retained beyond their benefit, like any good one, seems to apply to any scale of human activity from learning to ride a bike, to a grad student actually graduating to live and directly observe the nature of her/his field interest in an actual field, to an employee learning a skill well enough to open his own business, to the human race evolving beyond its training wheels — western civilization’s updated version of the creation myth: that competitive commodification of the planet and each other is a natural enactment of the survival of the fittest has been taken too far. We must realize the true meaning of Darwin’s term to be the survival of those sane enough to adapt, to fit into the inevitable, infinitely profound wisdom of nature and the intrinsic sanity of symbiosis with the other parts of this planetary body upon whose health we all, of necessity, depend.

Like the quadracyclist, academic and company man took their new skills to the next level of possibilities, the human race can carry those beneficial skills of science and technology along the evolutionary path of its maturation.


Mike Goldman said...

Life is an endless series of scaffoldings, every one of which is discarded in its turn.

Pisces Iscariot said...

Too may graduates seem to think that once they pass from the hallowed corridors of education their skills are complete - many of that ilk seem to believe that there is nothing a less educated person can teach them - I love to watch them crash and burn :)

Lilwave said...

"training wheels removed from life so experience may be tested against the wisdom of their early education with no requirement that it even be applied"

Isn't this the whole purpose of being a parent? A parent should give the child enough survival skills so when on their own their experiences don't destroy them.
Survival skills being taught differ depending on the life they are heading into. The key is in what the parents feel is needed for survival. I can see that kids would return to where they find safety and nurturing.

Pisces..I know exactly what you are talking about first hand.

Yodood said...

Mike, spot on

That "crash and burn" was called "turning on and dropping out" in my case in my day (1972). I actually imagined I wasn't like that upon graduation ('64) because, unlike my fellow engineering students, I didn't throw my text books on their bonfire. Another case of being fooled by one's own symbols.

Of course you're right, cutting apron strings is as necessary as umbilical cords.

The part of survival training is probably a more contentious discussion than religion. I can only say at this point, one must be extremely careful with it, children can see right through what adults have learned to fear and the more they fear the less they'll experience and be free to see as it is. It's like adding your baggage to theirs. Okay, I'll shut up for now, you started it.

BTW Would I be too much of what you know so exactly Pisces is talking about to presume I am that first hand?

Lilwave said...

Teaching children to live in fear is not providing survival skills but rather passing on a curse as far as I'm concerned. I have always tried to remind my boys to not live in fear but also not to be blind of the dangers, both physical and spiritual. This is sometimes hard as a parent. Especially when, like my eldest, has no physical fear and loves adrenaline. LOL!!

No, you never crossed my mind when I responded to Pisces. I was thinking of work. I am one of the rebellious non-certified folk amongst the certified and degrees. They always think they know more at first until my 20+ years experience overshadows their latest textbook.

Yodood said...

Lilwave, Whew! I was afraid I had been found condescending along with all of our other ways of misunderstanding each other. I guess that means my superiority is still my secret. ;p