Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Palimpsest

When my career was young and I knew what I knew, I found myself suddenly surrounded by a exceedingly dense fog. I could not find my way and I was directionless. I reached with all my strength into the dense fog, well up to my shoulder and suddenly something touched my hand. I couldn't feel it move away, but I grasped it in desperation so it wouldn't escape and pulled it out of the mist. It was a parchment. It appeared old; brown,wrinkled, lined with age and on its surface there was a script, written line by line, filling the parchment face, full of strange cryptic characters. When the fog lifted I sat at my desk and tried to imagine what I had been given. I did not understand the script and so I concluded that those writings therefore must be irrelevant. As a result I took my eraser and erased the printed characters. Having done so there were still the indents on the parchment face where the writer had pressed on the stylus. On that blank page, now available to me, I wrote a treatise on the nature of modern medicine. I had seemed to have found my way; I wasn't directionless, and I knew what I knew. Still, I was haunted by the strange characters I had erased and became aware that I knew what I  didn't know. Later, I had a dream in which the written description of those exquisite simulacra from the past, appeared to me in translation. I realized that I had erased and overwritten that former script because of the hubris I felt about the present and the failure to know the relevance of what I never knew. I erased my treatise on modern medicine and burnished the indented parchment to bring back, into life,  the indentations. A palimpsest through the fog and mist of time was a gift to teach me what I need to know.

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