When Do We Learn Thy Deep Mysteries?

So once again Percy Byshhe Shelley stopped by for a visit, just to fan away the mist. I've always liked that guy, for he was never afraid to hang tinsel on intellect while speaking of romance.  Tonight he whispered,
Mother of this unfathomable world!
Favour my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only; I have watched
Thy shadow, and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy deep mysteries.
Depending on your tastes, you might recognize it, especially if you're a fan of the Great Beast. If not, let me point you toward this truly monumental work:  Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude. Shelley really is one of the titans.

Today has been a funny one, with several unexpected callers. George F. Babbitt shook my shoulder at daybreak (noon by my sundial), then Isaac Newton and his chronicler Voltaire put in an appearance after my postprandial nap. In the evening--most appropriate when the shades are drawn--Shelley spoke up, as mentioned above.

This confluence of personages had but a single message to relate, something I guess was pretty obvious:

Just about everything important I know, was learned before age twenty.

Isn't that weird? It had never occurred to me before my visitors of today, but it really appears that learning "of thy deep mysteries" is completely logarithmic in nature. Not exponential, not quadratic, not even linear, but one-hundred-percent, A-1, purely logarithmic. If your college algebra is a trifle rusty, here's an illustration:



Starting at age 1 or so, we're learning like crazy and no longer looking for a teat (although, I'll confess I never outgrew that craving): putting names to faces, a bit of phonology here or there, meeting arithmetic and learning to count, and seeing a natural world populated by plants and animals taking on far more importance than humans.

And then the explosion. Learning, learning, learning. Learning to speak, learning to add, especially learning to read, and yes, even learning to think original thoughts. But perhaps most important to me, was learning always to watch others, but trust my own instincts.

That logarithmic curve ever slows down, and I was certainly a little more timid at age 20, than at 10, moreso in my dotage. Society does that to a person. But today I realized that virtually all I know about the world of humans and society was gathered back then. And still doesn't explain squat. 

The window dressing may have changed over my lifetime, but the goods on  sale haven't.

Next installment: Only with the Heart

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