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11:23 AM Sat, Jan. 19th

Column: Ron Barnes on 'Jargon'

I have had two great love affairs in my life. The first is with My Beloved. The second is with books.

Each night I am so fortunate to go to bed and curl up with both.

How lucky I am!

But if you now believe I am going to share lurid stories about my ongoing love affair with my wife, you will be sorely disappointed. This short tract is about my passion for the written word.

Sorry folks.

My love for books began when I was a small lad. I believe (and hope) it will continue until my final day on earth.

I used to have similar strong feelings about certain magazines. No more.

They have passed me by. They increasingly use language I find incomprehensible. The assumption is that I understand what they are talking about. Frequently, I do not. Nor do I wish to.

"Too bad," you may reply. "It's your choice to keep up or not." Yes, I know.

"It's a new age, Ron." No question about it. The Technological Age or Information Age (or whatever you choose to call it) is a fateful reality. And it is not that I did not know it was coming. I did. I welcomed it. Information, knowledge, technology-wheeee!

The heck of it is, I intended to stay current. I was positive about the awesome anticipated changes and prepared (I thought) to not simply manage all the stuff experts said was coming my way but to thrive on the multiplicity of challenges I would face.

So much for that fantasy.

I guess I did not foresee some of the consequences of aging. I slowed down just when the world began an acceleration. Nor did I comprehend that I might not be able to keep up with the new terms, descriptions and alphabet-soup mix of technical jargon. Fresh theories and ideas rolled off young tongues and my old ears became angry barriers.

Somewhere in there, I lost it. At some point I must have consciously decided "I can't keep up." I recognized that I had fallen behind and was heading further south every day.

So, here I sit today, nursing a new perspective.

I call it my Charlie Brown mantra.

It's based on an old Charlie Brown cartoon sequence.

In this strip, Charlie Brown has left his familiar and comfortable pitching mound (at the suggestion or urging of his teammates) to take up a new position in left field. The farther he goes into the field, the higher the grass gets until he is completely surrounded by grass taller than he. In the final cartoon block, Charlie Brown says, "I just hope I'm facing in the right direction."

I cannot help but identify with Charlie.

Tell me you understand!

Dr. Ron Barnes is a retired educator and businessman.