Ancient History

This week mariner and his wife faced a nightmare that every family must face sooner or later: remove everything from the attic so it can be refurbished by a contractor. Having scrambled to leave a barren attic, two bedrooms are buried and unusable by clothes (many long forgotten), boxes and books about every subject in the world, photographs, photographs and more photographs, suitcases and travel paraphernalia, electric train sets, wall art, children’s belongings that they don’t have room for, blankets and reams of forgotten paperwork.

Among our daughter’s boxes was a copy of an unpublished book mariner wrote at the turn of the millennium. It was so profound that he forgot he wrote it. Written in mariner’s easy-to-read style, it is a brief treatise on what is really, really important in today’s world – noting most often that what we think is important isn’t really what’s important.

Mariner has decided to share over several weeks portions of the contents of this book with his readers . The title of the book is “What’s it all about? It’s all about what’s important!” Today, the Prologue is presented.

This book is a treatise on the true motivations and causes of everyday American behavior. What’s important about that sentence is that I’ve always wanted to use the word “treatise”. And that’s the truth of it. If you understand this relationship between what seems important and what’s really important, then you will not have difficulty with this book. Every culture, in this case American Culture, has a veneer of social icons and value systems; these social icons and value systems take on a persona separate from why they seem important. Everyone knows the United States of America is a democracy but do we stop and think what’s really important about that? It can’t be one man one vote because only three in ten people vote. What’s important about democracy is that it keeps everything about government confused and ill-defined, thereby letting people go about their own business.
It’s not usually a harmful thing, this obfuscation of what’s really important, but it is entertaining. I am reminded of the old story about the woman who, when she cooked a ham, always cut off the end. Asked why she did this, she said, “It’s the way my mother did it.” Intrigued by this question, the woman confronted her mother about this practice. “It was so I could fit the ham into my small pot”, the mother said. What seems important is that it’s how Mother did it. What’s really important about cooking a ham is to make sure it fits the pot.
What’s it all about? It’s about what’s important. Sometimes what seems important isn’t really important and what’s really important doesn’t seem important. It’s important to like the word “important” if you’re going to enjoy this book.

Ancient Mariner

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