When Wisdom Comes With Age
Have you had one lately? A Flash of the Blindingly Obvious? That 'Duh!' moment, a realisation so patently obvious that you wonder how you've missed it.
Talking about this with a 50-something friend recently, we agreed that we should know this stuff by now. That at our age we shouldn't need to learn and relearn how to deal with all the stuff that life throws us. After all, we've met most of it before!
And that got us thinking. Is it really age that's the issue? Is it that we keep getting the lessons we have not yet learned? Or is it simply that life is a repeat cycle of the same stuff on different days in different clothing, and sometimes, at every stage, we just don't recognise it.
My friend said, 'I thought wisdom comes with age, but I'm not sure.' Experience? Definitely, but wisdom? What is that exactly? And why do some people seem to be wise early in life, where others never seem to attain it?
Good questions that have exercised great minds for years. It seems that there are qualities that form the bedrock for wisdom to be acquired.
Openness to new ideas and accepting that yours is not the only, or even most helpful, perspective.
The willingness to be wrong and learn from experience, and sometimes doing so the hard way.
Having the capacity to bounce back from events and move on.
The ability to see that life is just life, that you are both unique and the same as everyone else.
Like you, I've met people of all ages who demonstrate these qualities, so what does age have to do with it? Perhaps the wisdom is not that we might miss the blindingly obvious, but that we recognise it for what it is, remember other times and reconfirm the learning. Wisdom in age then, is 40 years of experience, not one year repeated 40 times.
So does wisdom come with age? Yes, certainly, and, as Oscar Wilde commented, sometimes age comes along all by itself. Being wise doesn't mean the lessons stop showing up, just that we keep learning how to deal with them. It's a process, not a finite point.