He just wasn't sure when things had stopped making sense.
He knew there had been a time when he was certain of things. It hadn't been all that long ago but it seemed so far off he sometimes fancied he'd dreamt it.
It wasn't that his certainty had brought him any real joy but there was a security in the knowing-and he had known it all.
Things were either right or wrong; people were good or evil and no one could hurt you unless you let them. Suddenly he felt he was in a strange world where nothing was certain or solid but the ground beneath his feet and he was starting to suspect that of shifting from time to time.
The change had not actually been sudden; he knew that. So he stood there wondering when it had begun; when he had started noticing all the shades of grey that obscured the black and the white of things. He marveled at the false wisdom youth gave and that he had ever felt that he knew anything at all. In the corner of his eye he could see Jesse riding off full of that same false wisdom. If only the young could find a way to learn from others' mistakes but Teaspoon had told him once that every generation had to reinvent the wheel. He hadn't understood at the time but, like most of Teaspoon's pearls, he grew in time to value it and even cling to it.
His head hurt with contradictions. Good people doing bad things and even bad people doing good things. Every lesson he thought he had learned ever was becoming muddled and he knew if he spent the rest of his life, however long that might be, he'd never get it all sorted; not really anyway.
The worst thing he'd become aware of, as he stared at yet another box in yet another six foot deep hole, was that he could not keep the hurt from himself or his loved ones no matter how many guns he strapped to his hips or how good he was at using them.
He had once believed that good did in fact win over evil. He didn't just believe that if a person was on the side of "right" that he'd come out the winner, he knew it in his soul. His gut told him that Noah's side was the right one but the bodies seemed to pile up as quickly on that side as on the other. He was beginning to suspect that however one felt morally about the reasons for each side to take up weapons, this war-like the ones that preceded it, he supposed-would not answer the question of who was right. It would merely testify to which side had the most bodies to sacrifice for its cause.
He tried to think of that cocky young man, so self-assured as he went toe to toe with Teaspoon at Emma's that first day. He grasped desperately for just a taste of that confidence and certainty. But he was even starting to doubt the confidence of that young man; starting to think it had been a mere illusion. Or maybe he wasn't even sure that the cocksure boy of his memory was even him. And that day wasn't even that long ago, according to the calendar.
He took one more look into the hole and knew he no longer possessed the answers; if indeed he ever had. He didn't even know the questions.
My Back Pages by Bob Dylan
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
Girls' faces formed the forward path
A self-ordained professor's tongue
In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats