Things often remain invisible to us until something something strikes a particular note and the door opens and then we see them - like an image or a word or a song - everywhere. But then they flood our awareness and then twist and turn in unexpected ways that challenge our understanding of people or the world around us. And what I love most is our explanations of what we don’t understand. Just ask a child about Santa. I love how we fill the holes in our understanding.
My first exposure to a pet crackpot theory was an acquaintance who washed his hands after he did any kind of electrical work. I saw him wash his hands after changing a light bulb. As he scrubbed he said, “I don’t want all of ‘that’ on my skin. Don’t know what it will do.” Other than that, he was fairly normal. Really. Well, he had an pretty impressive handlebar mustache, I must admit.
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A professional songwriting friend told me, “I developed a theory that the earth isn’t round but that it curves, like the universe. I read some physics paper a while back about how if you were to set off into space and continued to travel in the same direction, you would eventually end up back where you started (much like if you started out in one direction on earth) because the universes ‘curves.’ It went on to say ‘not only is the universe queerer than we suppose, it’s queerer than we can suppose.’ I thought that was cool. I also wondered if you stand outside the universe and look at it as a whole, if it would look spherical, like the Earth does from space.” That’s a poetic view.
A friend said that her sister “has never taken a public bus because she believes that they will never take you where they say they will. Apparently she thinks there’s a mass of people sitting in a forest somewhere.”
This same friend told this. “I relied on an ABSOLUTE theory, applied to everyone in every situation, that when I didn’t know what someone was thinking or feeling, I assumed they thought or felt the same as me. This was completely intentional. This theory was completely inaccurate and led to decades of confusion and misunderstandings, but it cracks me up now.”
I chuckle at these crazy theories but I admit that I secretly hold my own theory. And like all reasonable crackpot theories, it is loosely based on some questionable facts.
I learned in elementary school that our bodies constantly make and shed skin cells. I also learned that the human body replaces all of its skin cells roughly every seven years. We also lived in the City of Seven Hills. We lived with a seven day calendar. And there were seven people in my family. So in my chaotic comic book mind I took that to an absurd end, well, just because. But then something happened along the way. Even though I laughed it off, I began to think that there might be something to it. Even though I know that this information is not 100% factually true, that hasn’t stopped me from believing my Seven Year Theory. So here it is.
Since it’s a “medical fact” that our skin cells are replaced every seven years it only stands to reason that we become a new person in that time. That’s a liberating idea. If you think about the age increments, it makes perfect sense - in a comic book way.
I have to admit that when I express this as a matter of fact and a person nods his head in agreement then I know that he doesn’t know the facts either. That’s when I claim that cows sleep standing up and if you hit them just right at the shoulder then the animal falls over. Or migrating rock. But that’s for another time.
Anyway, we become a new person every seven years. That’s an appealing idea loaded with possibilities. For instance, if you don’t like what’s happening in your life you can rest assured that you will enter a new phase of life soon enough. Like a broken mirror, a string of bad luck ends after seven years. The tough times disappear, but joy and suffering return periodically to keep us grounded and growing. There may be a phase of joy or wealth. It’s all part of the grand and eloquent seven year cycle.
So roughly every seven years we become a new person. We begin a new adventure. No bad luck lasts forever. Good times prepare you for the bad. With the help of nature, we get to recreate or reinvent ourselves. Wisdom is revealed in chapters. Besides, we get a little bored with ourselves and invite change every seven years. This could explain the Seven Year Itch. Or those horrible ‘80s photos. You know, as I say that, why not pull out that photo album and chart your own seven year phases. You’re not the same, are you?
So it only stands to reason, that we should identify those stage much like Abraham Maslow did for his famous Hierarchy of Needs. So think of the these as seven year steps in the continuum of development.
Age 7 - School Begins Phase
Age 14 -Turbulent Teen Phase. The pimples will go away - eventually.
Age 21 - Adulthood Phase - Mornings are so, so difficult.
Age 28 - Professional Phase - Everything increases: marriage, family, career, blood pressure.
Age 35 - Starting to Feel “Old” When You Hear “Kids’” Music and You Don’t Get It Phase
Age 42 - Responsible But You Really Want to Play Phase
Age 49 - I’ll Never Be Able to Retire Because of College Costs and Weddings! Phase
Age 56 - Feel Like a Teenager With Money For “Toys” Phase
Age 63 - Consider Moving Closer to a Hospital Phase
Age 70 - How do McCartney and Jagger Do It? Phase
Age 77 - I’m Skydiving Today! Phase
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that “There is a crack in everything God made.” And I enjoy the cracks in every crackpot theory. Especially the bigger and deeper and weirder cracks. I like those.