Word To The Wise
I was a thinking the other day (something I try to do at least once every twelve hours) about wisdom. I mean, venerable knowledge learned throughout one’s life, not wisdom in the form of useless teeth that exist for the sole purpose of eventual extraction.
I’ve just never understood why we assume that the aging process automatically imbues us with extra smarts and degenerative disks. (I suppose I must not be too old otherwise I’d know the answer to the question, rather than just having to deal with those nagging vertebral problems.)
And our colleges and universities reinforce this argument each year by choosing commencement speakers who supposedly bring both celebrity and wisdom to the table. (But mostly celebrity. Wisdom’s gonna cost ya’.) My personal favorites are alumni who are lured back to campus with the promise of an honorary doctoral degree, in spite of having left school 17 credits short of graduation. Wisdom at such a young age is rare indeed.
Yet empowered with only a sense of pomp and circumstance, these speakers love to pose the question, “What would your future self tell your younger self?” You know, the assumption being that we are all better people for having a few landmark birthdays under our belts.
But the funny thing is, older me kind of likes younger me and if I’m being absolutely honest about it, young me could teach old me a thing or two. Like taking risks is a good thing rather than an invitation to financial ruin. Like being carefree instead of careful is an inalienable right. Like sometimes it’s better to make friends for life instead of networking to further one’s career. Wisdom my ass.
On the other hand, if younger me had only listened to future-wisdom me, I might have avoided that bad perm, jogged more (or jogged at all) and bought that roach-filled one-bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen. Younger me could be such a tool.
So maybe the take away here is this: wisdom may come with age but we are certainly under no obligation to use it. Treat it like that subscription to The Fruit of The Month Club and only eat the stuff you really enjoy.
Clearly, this is the thinking of one who is wise beyond her years. (* I’d have a really good finish here but my designated thinking time just went off the clock.)