Sunday, August 20, 2006
In Norton Juster's absolutely wonderful book The Phantom Tollboth (and if you haven't read it you must rush out and do so right now), Milo, the boy hero, meets another boy named Alec Bings. Alec is about as tall as Milo, but his head is up in the air, at the height it will be at when he's fully grown, and his feet are about three feet off the ground. Since Alec and his family have eyes that are at the same height for their entire lives, "'We always see things from the same angle.'" Alec explains, "'It's much less trouble that way.'" When Milo tells Alec that he grows from the ground up, Alec scoffs:
"'What a silly system.' The boy [Alec] laughed. 'Then your head keeps changing its height and you always see things in a different way? Why, when you're fifteen things won't look at all the way they did when you were ten, and at twenty everything will change again.'"
The point, of course, is that it's good for perspectives to change as time passes, and it would be dull and even stulifying if we saw things in just one, unchanging way for our entire lives.
I'm now several years older than my father was when he died. At the time of his death, he seemed very old to me. Now it seems to me that he had half of his life yet to live. But no chance to live it.