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Life Experience

March 17, 2004

Being short on inspiration these days, I am turning to an outside source for ideas.

From The Book of Questions (Gregory Stock):

Do you feel that advice from older people carries a special weight because of their greater experience?

Yes. And, as I grow older myself, I am understanding why. Itís not that we get smarter with age, but we are more clearly able to see the big picture. We can look back and see how things we felt were so important at the time were relatively minor, and how things that seemed minor at the time turned out to have life-changing implications.

Unfortunately, most young people donít realize this. They think because an older person isnít up on their world, they have no clue whatís going on. They see an old person doing things more slowly, being unfamiliar with new technology, maybe even afraid of all the changes taking place in the world, and they think they are stupid. They forget that this person was once where they are, young and quick and welcoming a world that seemed new and strange to their parents and grandparents. They forget that an older, homely to them, body contains a spirit that can feel everything they do, and has felt a lot more. And they donít realize that one day they will be the old person trying to share a lifetime of wisdom with young people who refuse to listen.

Why is being young such a good thing? Why is it so important to pretend to be 20-something long beyond what nature decrees? Why does the confidence and wisdom of maturity carry so much less weight than a youthful body? While I would love a fresh start from where Iím at, you couldnít pay me to be 20 again!

Do your comments and suggestions influence other people much? How could you present your ideas so that they would have more impact?

I wish they did. Like every other ďolderĒ person, I wish I could make the road easier for the young people coming after me. I wish I could tell them the things I wish somebody had told me. But they wonít listen any more than I would have when I was younger. Oh, I would have listened, but I wouldnít have understood.

Perhaps if I were cute and young-looking, if I hung out with the young people, they would listen more to what I have to say. But I really donít think it would change anything, because they still wouldnít truly understand.

I guess some things just have to be learned by experience. There are no shortcuts in growing up.