The Wisdom of the Aged. Or Not.

Question: does anyone else in their 30 – 40 decades (or over) ever feel not as wise as you thought you would by this age? Do you look around and think "everyone else my age has it all together, except ME"?

I feel as if I should feel wiser, that I ought to have life figured out after having reared children for going on 16 years, and being married for nearly 20. But I don't.

What bothers me most is finding I've forgotten some of what I used to know, having to stop and try to think (sometimes very hard) of a word I'm attempting to say within the context of a sentence, and feeling foolish once I do remember and realize it's a fairly common word.

Ack.

When giving advice to my kids, telling them how important their studies are, what impact they'll have on the rest of their lives, I feel wise. I've told them college will not only be their biggest academic challenge, but also the most fun time they'll ever have in their lives - especially if they go away to school, like I did.

I avoided sharing all the stupid things I did in college, the times - feeling immune to destruction – I took chances I shouldn't have. Then, the times I didn't take academics seriously enough, choosing dates over studies, etc. Do I let them in on all that, or wait for them to leaf through the wrong photo album and see their parents obviously drunk as skunks, because they know there's no way I'd stick Cheetos up my nose and in my ears sober?

I find myself looking around, wondering, "How did I even get here?" Looking back, it seems I've zig-zagged through life instead of following a straight course. There are lots of variables at play, though. Unexpected events crop up in life, and sometimes you're forced to side-step – or entirely give up – one thing for another. Life's one, long trade off.

I look at young people, with their appearance of confidence in themselves and ambitions for their lives, and I know it took me so much longer to even start knowing myself. Even now I keep discovering things about me - which isn't a bad thing. Finding I've changed, for better or worse, shakes things up. But it can also be a little confusing.

But will I ever figure out how I got where I am, and why? Will I ever actually feel like the grown up I am?

Sounds like an official mid-life crisis to me. Too bad I can't afford – or even want – a convertible. I don't need hair plugs, either. I'm all set on that. I guess that leaves plastic surgery, pottery making and tennis lessons.

To all you youngsters out there, be advised when you get older you still won't have all the answers. Many times you'll even forget the questions, and when you're supposed to pour milk into a recipe you'll absent-mindedly pour it down the sink, instead.

It'll happen. Believe me. A … ahem … "friend" of mine did that once.

I just wish I felt more certain about life, that I had more of the answers I think I should have. I realize this is existential angst mixed with the crisis of being in my EARLY 40s. I'm halfway between youth and retirement. And still it's all a mystery. An overwhelming mystery. 

I have the funny feeling when I come to the end of it all I'll know I've barely scratched the surface of all there is to life. Hopefully I'll come to accept that before then. Otherwise the dents in the walls from me banging my head against them will mean someone has a lot of spackling work to do.

Oh, hell. Forget it all. Pass me the Cheetos.

2 thoughts on “The Wisdom of the Aged. Or Not.

  1. I think the drawback of acquiring knowledge about anything is the ensuing realization of how much you don’t know. When I was a practicum supervisor, I noticed that the older, experienced teachers always had more questions. I soon figured out that it was because they had enough experience to figure out what they didn’t know, whereas the twenty-somethings were blissfully unaware of how little they knew, so had no questions. Maybe that’s the definition of wisdom? Becoming aware of how little we know?

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  2. You know, that’s so true about younger people. I see that in my kids all the time, especially in my 15 year old. She makes snap judgments without thinking things through, and thinks she has it all figured out. It drives me NUTS.
    One thing she’s scared of, because no one can ever understand it, is the universe. I tell her that’s why I find it fascinating, because it is so vast and we’ll never know even a millionth of a percent about it.
    I guess having too many questions is better than never questioning at all. How boring that would be.

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