I turned a year older this year. It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? Age sneaks up on us, I think. For example, I don’t know a single person who says, “You know, I really do feel 65.” Do you? Everyone is younger, inside, than they are on the outside. The life clock keeps ticking and we run to keep up and suddenly we find that years have gone by and we’re older than we think we are.
Interestingly, the older we get, the smarter we get; it’s true that there’s no teacher quite like experience. The pain of prior missteps and the anguish of poor choices guides us as much as the beauty and peace of better times. Thoughtful people learn and grow through the years—you know who they are when you meet them. And yet we don’t place enough value on this wisdom. Instead, we hurry about our business, and we text and we talk and we keep moving. Marriages fall apart and jobs are lost and children are born and parents die and we find ourselves facing midlife with all sorts of questions about how and when and why it all is as it is. And yet we don’t stop to ask those who have gone before us. We see them, but we don’t really see them. Awash in the culture of youth and celebrity we forget that the answers might not be in the latest best-seller or at our new counselor’s office, but right there in the collective wisdom of our elders.
It’s there for the asking, I think. Shouldn’t we take advantage of it? We do it for jobs; when we want to excel but don’t know the next steps, we call a friend of a friend who’s been there. We do it for love; when we’re first falling head over heels, we call our more experienced ex-roommate to find out how she knew if he was the one. But we don’t do it with life. Not often enough.
I think I’ll start asking.
photo credit: Jiaren Lau