Like a tadpole hatched into a shallow puddle…
oblivious to the vast universe beyond the murky water that engulfed me…
I was immersed… inescapably… in the rituals, myths, and language of my home town.
Year after year… my family, friends, neighbors, and I went merrily about our business… of kindergarten, grammar school, high school, homework, and graduations… of circumcisions, baptisms, weddings, funerals, and Sunday mass… of workweeks and weekends… of little league and Super Bowls… of elections, parades, fireworks, national anthems, and pledges of allegiance.
I accepted these customs as just the way things are… that they were good for me… good for everyone.
But there’s more…
A certain word… a tone of voice… a subtle glance… a wink, a smile, a spank on the bottom… told me what was fact and what was fiction… what was holy or profane… who to trust and who to fear… rightly or wrongly.
I learned what they thought was important and true… by watching and listening… day after day for thousands of days.
And so, I laughed when they laughed and scoffed when they scoffed.
I recited what they recited and worshiped what they worshiped.
There seemed no reason to ask WHY… I just assumed so many adults to be infinitely smarter and wiser than me.
Of course they knew better!
Of course they had everything under control!
Of course they had my best interests at heart!
I had no desire to escape, because there seemed to be no need for escape…
at the time.
A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!