Way back when, in the Good Old Days, I had a good score on the English portion of my SAT’s. As a result I got recruitment letters from hundreds of liberal arts colleges.
The most intriguing of those, to 17 year old me, were colleges that had Great Books programs. Their curriculums were based around reading and discussing the great works of literature.
That was incredibly exotic to an Indiana farm boy whose exposure to great literature consisted of comparing Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story.
But then, as now, I was a practical fellow, and I chose my course of studies based on what could result in a well-paying career. I don’t regret that. I’ve had an interesting and well-paying career doing interesting work.
But now, staring retirement in the face, I thought, “What do I want to do?” or “What do I regret not doing?”
And those high school dreams of studying the great books came to mind. I looked around and found that the University of Chicago offers a 4 year program where you read classical literature and meet once a week online to discuss them.
I thought that would be cool do when I retired, and then in a fit of optimism that I could allocate the time to do it, I signed up for it and started this fall.
Before the class actually started there was a 3 week session on how to read classical texts using Mortimer Adler’s “How to Read a Book.” I’ve found Adler harder to read than Plato!
4 weeks into the program I’m saying, “See 17 year old me, you should’ve done this!” And 17 year old me answers, “Could you afford to do this now if you had?”
17 year olds, such smart asses.