Yesterday I was listening to an interview on CBC of Farley Mowat, by Shelagh Rogers. He was what people call a character, because he obviously did not care one whit what people thought of him, and as such half of what he said was pure poetry, and the other half was outrageous to the point of scandal.
But what struck me most of all is that every single thing that came out of his mouth was just so definitive. He knew who he was, and he had his own worldview totally figured out, and he stated it with absolute confidence. Things that he wasn’t interested in did not concern him. Things that he was interested in, he knew. He just knew. He wasn’t being a blowhard or a know-it-all or an obnoxious douche – rather, he was really charming and smart and convincing and even sensible. But most of all, he was just…sure of himself.
I used to be like that back as a teenager – didn’t we all? There was a time when I knew the truth, the way the world worked, the way things needed to be changed and the ways they needed to stay the same. But the older I got, the more I wondered. The more I saw other points of view, and they seemed valid, too. The more I found myself seeing all sides to every issue, to sympathizing with everything.
To the point where now, I feel like maybe I’m not so sure about anything.
I mean, I have my values, sure. And I know what I want for myself, for my kids, for my community, for this world. But the ground is shifty. Anything can happen – new data, new experiences, meeting a random, well-spoken stranger – that could change my point of view. And I’m open to that. Is that a problem?
It sure would feel good, every now and again, to be as certain as Farley. To feel like this is how it is. Not to be belligerent or closed-minded or rude, but just to be sure. To speak with authority on a subject, with real weight behind it. To know, really know, from my own personal experience, what to expect. How things are, and how they are going to be.
I’m thinking – since Farley was in his 80s during this interview – that maybe this is something that cycles back in time. That it’s a bell curve of uncertainty, starting low as a kid, rising to a peak in our mid-life-crisis years, then dipping back down as we reach the age of no longer giving a heck what the other guy thinks. Maybe I just need to give it time.
Or maybe not. I’m not sure. Maybe that only comes with being a character.