The skeptical part doesn’t need much explaining. It comes with the territory of middle age. When you’ve been around the block a few times, it’s easy to get the sense that the scenery is familiar. Whatever is happening has happened before. You’ve already seen this movie. You know how the story turns out.
I felt this keenly during last summer’s round of bloodshed in Lebanon. Every morning at breakfast, we would play a game called “Guess the News.” Whoever had not got to the newspaper had to try and come up with the day’s headlines. I was horrifyingly good at it, which I took as confirmation that a certain cynicism had rooted itself deeply in my brain. Is there a lifetime limit on buying a bill of goods? If so, I think I have reached it.
The open-minded part is what brings me here. New and unexpected things can happen. Here’s proof: after decades of having my words published in books, magazines, newspapers—the full dead tree gamut – I am writing a blog. Moi. I know that millions have beaten me to this form of expression, some of them even more advanced in years than I. I know I’m coming late to the party.
Still, I am amazed at myself. And maybe not so amazed. I’ve always wanted more of a conversation than a monologue. I once took a job at Harper’s Weekly, a magazine meant to be written partly by its editors and partly by its readers. We learned from that noble experiment that it’s hard to sustain two-way communication when words take weeks to arrive. But that has changed; they don’t anymore. I press a button and presto, I have posted. You press a button and presto, you have responded. That’s how I hope it will be, anyway.
I’m more than ready for it. I believe I may also have reached my lifetime limit of sitting alone in a room, occasionally flinging out paper airplanes of prose that land who-knows-where. Actually, I do know: in waiting rooms, or so I’m always hearing from friends who were visiting the dentist and “saw something” I wrote in a magazine. Well, goodbye to all that. The Open-Minded Skeptic is ready for company.