I was happy to find a copy of this Feb/Jan's issue of The Atlantic today since, Idunno, I guess my subscription's run out or they got lost on the way out here or something.
An article titled "Lost in the Meritocracy" (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200501/kirn), which was extremely entertaining to read, kinda struck home a little bit. Obviously not the parts about being the best at stuff, or having such undiminishing but feckless ambition, or the familiarity with high society.
But, Idunno, with my mediocre high school transcript and complete lack of extracurricular activities, I've always suspected that my SAT score was solely what got me into college.
Likewise, I've always felt somewhat the fraud among my friends, the educated ones, the ones who know what they're talking about when they open their mouths, the ones who are going places and doing things.
"Learning at every level to make it, barely, to the next one," and "a talent for nothing, but a knack for everything" seem to describe me perfectly.
These are the things I fear: that I will never be exceptional at anything, that I will never learn the real substance of any field, that I am forever condemned to being merely facile, that I simply lack the capacity for any kind of real education or skill.
Because I have always been better at testing than at doing whatever the test was supposed to be testing for. Because I have always had this weird, deceptive capacity to give people the impression that I'm a lot smarter and more capable, a lot more reliable and more responsible than I actually am. This is kinda cool, and really not very cool at all at the same time.
So what's a ghost like me to do? Do I keep beating my head against the wall of education, keep trying against my history to retain some semblance of knowledge, to buy into that ancient artifice, just to earn the respect of myself and others?
I knew I'd be thinking about this (going back to school) again, and this is exactly why, if some of you will recall, I threw the proverbial hat over the wall. But it seems perhaps that the hat is entirely replaceable.
I sense that a higher education is going to be a lot of work, though, that I'm not and never was prepared for. My mind is a sieve, even when it comes to stuff I care about, and especially when it comes to stuff I only artificially care about, like formal education.
Jake quotes (in The Best Letter I've Ever Received In Recent Memory) Tolkien: "Not all who wander are lost." This rings true, strikes me as profound and inspirational, but not true of me. I wander because I am lost. And I doubt a college degree will change that.
It occurs to me that wisdom is a nobler pursuit than knowledge. That's what I want: wisdom.
Text, as much as I purport to love it (though, frankly, I doubt I love it nearly as much as those who really love it love it) contains no wisdom, or if it does, I don't know how to glean it from pages.
Maybe this means I should seek education, to learn to fill the holes in my mind, the sieve, so I can truly learn, or at least truly learn how to learn.
Anyway, it seems to me tha the tried and true path to wisdom is simply to live life, with eyes and mind and heart open. And I think I might manage to live and to educate myself at the same time. Because perhaps it would be an even nobler endeavor to seek both knowledge and wisdom, and if the two don't always coincide, perhaps they at least reside nearby to each other.
Anyway, plenty of time left to think about that. And besides, I've got $30k in GI Bill money to waste, er, spend.