The WHY of IT
"What 'cha got there, Timmy? Looks to me like you're tryin' to poke the water with that there needle of yours."
"Naw, just trying to get this stupid thing to float. I've been trying for nearly half an hour, and all it does is sink every time."
"It must be a mighty stale day if all a ten year old boy like you is got to do but make a pin do what it ain't intended to do."
"It's a school project, kind of. At least it will be if I can get it to work. The teacher said it can't be done, and I say it can. What do you think, Clem?"
"Well, Timmy, I'd say it's a pitiful waste of a fine spring morning, could be better spent with a worm on a hook dangling in that there lake. Come to think on it, that pin of yours would make a fine hook for such a purpose. And then you'd be mighty thankful that it don't float."
"You don't understand, Clem. When I get a question in my head, I just got to get an answer for it. Otherwise, it don't make sense and I worry about it."
"That's a tolerable hefty burden for such small shoulders to bare up under. Reckon you could just let some such thought lay and let what be, be as they be?"
"Not me. I'd just think about it all the time. I can't even sleep when something hasn't got an answer."
"I suppose yours is a problem that's troubled folks for time eternal, Timmy."
"How do you mean,?"
"Well, as I recollect from what I hear'ed other folks say, it ain't all too uncommon for fellers to find answers for things what have no question. Take for instance that there big, shinny sun up yonder. Now you an' me knows it ain't nothin' but a big ball a fire that just sits there with nothing to do. And the Moon at evening time, she do the same all night
"But we folks got to make sense of it all. And the smarter a folk is, the bigger the answer got to be. So folks go to thinking those were gods flyin' around the sky, and since regular folks had no better answer, they took on the same thoughts."
"You mean like Me, Clem? Are you saying I'm smart?"
"Rightly so, Timmy, smart as that ol' Mr. Red Fox over there. But being smart causes a heap of folks troubles. They hunts for answers for things for which there ain't none, and shouldn't be knowed if there are such an answer, and lets pass all the things that has an answer that should be knowed.
"Like how, clem?"
"Like trying to make metal float, when the Good Lord give us wood for that purpose."
"But there's metal boats in Ballentree Bay, and the ferry is metal. And look at those big ships they use to go across the ocean. They're all metal, and weigh tons, besides all the people and things on them. They all float. So why shouldn't a little stick-pin like this float?"
"You got a heavy question there, and some mighty fine reasoning to boot. Fact is, those things float, and you're stick-pin don't. That's the way the Good Lord deigned it, and the why of it ain't for me to know."
"Haven't you ever wondered about anything, Clem? You know, bug you and all?
"Well, kind a', I suppose. First time I saw a calf born'd. Brought lots a questions to my head. But the beauty of it all made my questions of small account. And those folks I did ask of it gave me answers I couldn't fathom, or didn't fig'r tender ears ought to abide. Fact was, it happened, and that was that."
"I guess you're right. But I still like looking for answers to things."
"Ain't no Right, nor no Wrong, I'm thinkin'. There just is. One feller finds his pot-o-gold at one end of the rainbow, another finds his at the other end."
"Why do folks call you stupid and ignorant, Clem? I think you're pretty smart, especially for not having much schooling and all."
"Well, I thank you kindly. Mighty thoughty of you to say so. How be it, I never hear'd no one come right out and say any such things to my face, lest they be irritated or wrathful, then folks will say just about anything hurtful what pops into their head.
"Aside of which, all those things are different an' ain't got much one to do with the other."
"What do you mean? I thought they were the same."
"Well, you take a stupid fella, you tell him that Farmer Brown's sow has birthed a new brood of piggies and she be mighty agitated at inquiring folk, and likely as not, will tear his leg off. So he, for spite, climbs into the pigpen and commences to chase the piggies. Now ignorant fella, he told the same, pays no heed to what you tells him, and does whatever he had a mind to do. And educated man, he goes find a teacher who knows diddle about pigs, and does what he tells him to do."
"I don't get it, Clem, it all still sound kind of the same to me."
"It do, don't it. I'll liken it this way; Mr Stupid does what you say he shouldn't, just to be contrary. Mr. Ignorant pays no mind to what he's told, so has to take his own falls. Mr. Educated only pays a mind to what his teacher tell him is so."
"Why didn't you say that before, without the stories, I mean? And, are you saying I shouldn't listen to my teachers?"
"Truth be know'ed, I didn't grasp the meaning my own self, and had to work it through in my head so I could give a proper account of it.
"You pay heed to your teachers all right, and learn all they has to share. Just don't think all they say is Gospel Truth, and cheat yourself out of learning what Adversities has to teach you. I'm sayin', don't jab a funnel in your ear and have the reckonings of other folks be drained into your head."
"Well, that's what I was doing with this pin, and you said I shouldn't."
"Spendin' a fine Spring day going against Nature is what I was sayin' you shouldn't."
"Then how would I find answers?"
"Just look to Nature, Timmy. You see this here pin of yours?"
"And see this here chunk a' wood by your foot?"
"Now, take the pin and stick it in the chunk a' wood and put the twain in the water."
"But, that's not the same thing. I didn't prove anything this way."
"You proved you ain't Stupid. You proved you ain't ignorant. You proved just by workin' at it that you ain't been Educated til you got no thoughts of your own. And you proved that you is smart enough not to jump off no tree-branch to see if you could fly just 'cause you see'd a bird do it, and it 'makes sense'."