>> Monday, December 7, 2009

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
Bertrand Russell

As I approach my next birthday, I am reflecting on the decades before. In my teens I found myself to know it all. I had everything figured out and didn't worry about anything. I was confident, even if I didn't have any experience at life.

In my twenties, I found the reality of life crushing. I didn't' know anything at all. Worse, as I learned of the things I didn't know, I found I didn't even have an opinion on them. Opinions were what I always counted on in my teens. I was lost.

My father promised that my thirties would be better. More balanced, he said. He was right--to an extent. I have now found my thirst for knowledge drowned by my utter lack of time to study and learn. I now have the drive I wished I had in college, but without the seemingly stretches of hours I had back then for nonsense. There is so much to learn and too little time to do it.

What will my forties bring? My dad doesn't really have an answer for that--except I do remember his "mid-life crisis" starting about then. But that's another post.

What I do hope my forties will bring is some wisdom. I feel I have tasted a little of that recently. A colleague of mine came to me in a panic, feeling he had utterly blown it in a crisis. I listened and listened. I sympathized with his concern. He had gotten awfully emotional.

However, in the end I felt he had followed the procedure and not let his inner panic keep him from the overall goal of safety. But his chief complaint of himself had been that he had not handled it as I would have--calmly and reasonably.

I reminded him I had been through very similar crises many times and that experience had taught me how to handle things with an inner calm. But was this true wisdom? Does wisdom come from experience?

I don't really believe it does. I imagine the assembly worker who can put together a gizmo in record time because he has done it thousands of times. But there is no real wisdom there. Just a great knowledge of gizmo assembly.

If repetitive experience doesn't bring wisdom, then what does?

"Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure."
William Saroyan

Ah, failure! Of course, that I have plenty of. With some of my failures, I have gotten up, dusted myself off and tried again--this time with some additional skills I didn't have before. And it helped.

Of course, something else I have been realizing is my great thirst for knowledge really does mean one thing--I mustn't have known very much at all before. It's clear to me now, that I am not as smart as I thought I was. I know less now than I used to. I suppose I should be checked by a neurologist.

But really, at least I am bright enough now to know how dumb I am.

(photo credits: Zest-pk, Wonderlane)


TruthSeeker December 9, 2009 at 3:29 PM  

I enjoyed reading this post because I found a lot of what I've experienced contained within it. My twenties were wasted and I, too, seek wisdowm now...I'm approaching 30...I want to read as much, live as much and experience as much as I can...but alas...the mundane duties of life always call and get in the way from my persuit of enlightenment, and I saw that notion with you as well. Isn't it an annoying irony of how in our early 20's the doors are open wide to pursue academia to the fullest, but oftentimes the invitation is met with half enthusiasm as the freedom of life beckons.
Anyways..I enjoyed your post. I started a blog too, would love you to check it out sometime. It's about my spiritual evolution. I'm new to the blogging thing so I look forward to hearing other's thoughts and reading their blogs.

Maggie Madison December 9, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

It is very ironic that are motivation is so high in our thirties, but our time is so limited! At least you are a decade ahead of me in that you are realizing all that now.
Good luck on your blog! I'll visit you soon!