A few centuries ago, more than a few, the men of the world were known for one pursuit, one compulsive, fear-generated pursuit – the fabled “turning over of the old leaves.” Not figuratively, not at all – this was what men did, so often, so blindly, on Sundays and some mid-week days too.
“Where is Father?” a son might ask his other. “Where he is always this time of day – he’s out back , turning over old leaves.” And yes, there the fool would be, intently taking the desiccated plant form and revolving it in his hands, murmuring to his addled self, examining the spines and stems for some brilliant message from beyond.
“What are we going to do today?” the family would ask upon another weekend. “There’s a pile out by the sycamore tree,” the paterfamilias would exclaim, to the groans of the fourteen children around the table. “What’s up this racket!” the fear-saddled man would invariably exclaim. “do you want to fall behind the Laughingstocks next door. They’ve got a almost composted pile to go through, and they might just find the answer to our Common Troubles.”
Whole communities of this singularly focused burghers devoted their waking lives to scouring for last season’s pile of gnarled , nearly torn apart leaves. If any male head of the household even started to raise an objection, the male elders would be summoned by a fearful spouse and summarily beat and berate the nearly wayward squire. “We do only one thing around here – we turn over old leaves. Our fathers turned over old leaves, and we must turn over only old leaves, and our children must only turn over old leaves!”
That is, until, one man, let’s call him Richard Darwin, said, out of the pure intelligence of his moral fiber, “Hey, you know what, what’s this stupidity all about? These are all OLD leaves we are talking about. They are either dead, or dying. They are from times of yester-yore when people were kept blind by their own social fears. How about this – how about we take this new leaf, yes this beautiful read and lustrous one here, and we dare – DARE – to turn it over!”
And it was done. Instead of all those old leaves, and the compulsions that went with it, humanity turned to what it scorned out of pure bestial anxiety – new leaves.