The Bag of Knowledge

I recently sent a card to my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Shelley, who wrote back with an interesting comment that speaks to the very heart of this blog of mine.  She said of our class, “I remember how everyone loved the imaginary ‘Bag of Knowledge’ that everyone brought and we filled with new words and knowledge every day!”

In the Air Force flying fighters, we carried with us to the jet a small ‘Pubs Bag’ that carried our charts and enroute publications like approach and departure plates – allowing us to fly any published approach or departure to a strange airfield during our sortie in case of an emergency. Every aviator always had their own imaginary ‘Clue Bag’ as well, which we filled with every bit of knowledge, war story, close call and bit of practical experience to call upon when facing a new and demanding situation that we may have never faced before – which was very instrumental in determining if we would be home for dinner or not on any given day.

While this blog of mine may not be much more than a first draft account of my life and experiences, subject to revision someday by someone much more talented in the art of writing than I am; it is essentially the same ‘Bag of Knowledge’ or ‘Clue Bag’ that I’ve carried with me ever since Second Grade – filling it with my life’s experiences for better or worse – that you can read and ‘go to school on.’  I say this because as much as life changes, it also stays the same.  Eternal truths remain constant even though technology and lifestyle changes transform society at an ever increasing pace.

I often wished as a child that I had someone to tell me stories about the world, about adventures and travels, about hardships and close calls – but that really wasn’t to be. Most of all that I know, I’ve experienced first hand in the ‘School of Hard Knocks.’ Perhaps I would have been more successful had I been able to know more about the world from someone else’s trials and tribulations, but when I look in the mirror I know that I earned every wrinkle and gray hair – and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

In Jonathan’s Dream, I wrote about the fictional character of Dave Spencer, or ‘Gramps’ to young Jonathan – his mysterious grandfather that visited occasionally without notice to tell stories of his adventurous travels to the far flung corners of the globe.  In a way, I play both roles in Jonathan’s Dream – the young Jonathan who yearns for adventure and finds himself in more of an adventure than he ever asked for – and Gramps – telling stories of his travels around the world and explaining life to his young grandson.  Perhaps someday young children will read the accounts of my life long after I’m gone, and dream of leaving on an adventure of their own some day.

Because if the day ever comes when young children – boys and girls – stop dreaming of adventure and what lies beyond the horizon, then society and the world will have lost a special part of what makes us all human.  Not everyone wants to go explore the world, but we all want to know that someone, somewhere is out there exploring our world – because it is possible to live our adventures through others if we choose.  So whether it is reading about Bilbo and Frodo setting out on great adventures from the Shire, or Gramps recounting his travels down the Amazon, or my bicycle trip and adventure around America – we can all take an adventure together – and bring with us our ‘Bag of Knowledge’ and ‘Clue Bag’ to fill with our experiences.

Because someday, perhaps a child who has not yet been born will read about our adventures through life together, and based on our experiences fill his or her own ‘Bag of Knowledge’ and set out on their own adventures in life – and we will in our own small way have been a part of their adventures too…just like my Second Grade teacher has been a part of mine.  🙂

Cheers,

Mark

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