Elementary school in the 50’s was great. America was the best country in the world, the atom was going to provide the fuel of the future, and scientists had recently cracked the mystery of our humanity: we were but a branch of the primate family tree. I remember being eight and studying, with deep interest, a graphic that showed in silhouette our stately progress through time: dwarfish creatures with long arms and craggy brows gradually giving way to slump-shouldered, club-dragging hominids and finally to suburban dads.
I grew up, got married, had children and finally grandkids. One day Christopher, age four, said, “Grandma, guess what I’m going to do when I grow up to be a human being?” It wasn’t his answer that floored me (“a rock scientist”) but the brilliance of his insight: we do not automatically evolve into fully formed persons. That takes work: first we have to grow up.
Which constitutes the real mystery of man. Not where did we come from but why we are here, what we are meant to be be, and how we are going to get to that place. Note: answers not to be found on the primate family tree.
I checked. Not there.