Older and wiser
Ann Q. Peters
Some questions have answers, some don’t.
For example, why do quail run rather than fly? It’s like they see a vehicle and yell, “Car! Run!!!” A visit to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website explains that, “when running, [quail] can move amazingly quickly despite their short legs. If pressed by a predator they will burst into flight with rapid, whirring wingbeats.” But they are not great flyers, given their general bowling ball shape.
Or, why does the wind die down when the sun sets? There’s a fairly simple explanation. When the sun is out, it warms up the surface of the earth. Since heat rises, it displaces the cooler air in the atmosphere above it. Throughout the day, air is mixed up more and more, creating faster moving air, i.e., wind. When the sun sets, the earth cools off and the colder air doesn’t rise. It just sits there, hence, no wind.
And why do coyotes howl at the full moon? Actually, they just howl at night in general, and folklore throughout the ages has associated wolves and coyotes with the moon. It doesn’t matter what phase the moon is in, they will howl at it. They’re probably calling for their pack to meet up, letting the pack know their location, or warning outsiders to steer clear of their territory.
And then there are the questions that have no answers, like, “Where are all my scissors?” “Why is yawning contagious?” Or, “Why can’t a person be young and wise at the same time?”
We’ve been to countless graduation ceremonies over the years, and keynote speakers are always trying to impart their hard-earned wisdom to young graduates, but it’s a hopeless endeavor. The only people in the audience who understand are the parents and grandparents. Youth is wasted on the young. Then again, I think of all the times in my life when I didn’t overthink a thing, mainly because I lacked critical information. But if I’d had the correct information it would have paralyzed me. For example, a few years ago my brother signed up for Levi’s Gran Fondo, a 100-mile bike ride around Sonoma County. So I said, “I’ll do it with you!” I signed up for the Piccolo Fondo, which is only 30 miles. How hard could that be? Plenty hard it turns out, at least those last ten miles coming back into Santa Rosa and going ever-so-slightly uphill. But I finished, and even did it again the next year.
Or like the time when our kids were eight, 10 and 12 years old and we were on vacation in the Yucatan Peninsula. We went to the Mayan ruins of Coba and scrambled up to the top of a very steep pyramid jutting up out of the surrounding jungle. It was an amazing site and a highlight of our trip. I later found out how dangerous that pyramid is, and how every year people fall off it and die. Yikes!
At age 34, still pretty young and stupid, Alec and I decided we wanted to run a small-town newspaper. Everybody’s dream, right? Who knew that you often work at night and on weekends and holidays, as your life becomes an endless cycle of deadlines? Actually, now that I think back, some older and wiser people did mention those things (and more), but we ignored them. And, of course, no one could have predicted back then that our industry would be “disrupted” to the extent that it has been.
So would we have taken the leap, or would we have stayed in our more secure corporate jobs? Hard to say, but I’m glad to be right here, even if it is Memorial Day and it would be nice to be at a BBQ or baseball game instead…