Why is it that when old age becomes a part of one’s life their perception seems to change and the realization of a life led comes under question and reflection? This age-old question has plagued mankind from the very beginning with each subsequent generation falling prey to the same feelings and I suspect the same realizations as all the other previous generations. What is it then that changes what causes men and women (mostly men) to reflect on the life they’ve had, the decisions they’ve made and the mistakes they’ve done?
The very cycle of life may be the culprit and maybe the reason for the changes that occur as we age. Not only growing old but the changes that occur because of age, or the experiences that have
been endured and lived through.
It is this specifically that causes the minds of men to change, to more
fully accept the inevitabilities that have surrounded us but are often ignored
or even more tragically, never known until age or experiences clarifies life
and solidifies our perspectives.
There seems to be a trend toward more understanding and acceptance of others as we age. Growing older reduces the volatility of everyday life and tempers the drastic
downs that are so common in the young.
Another question that arises, is the decisions we make in youth less
important than the ones we make as we cross over into old age? And do the experiences we have in life,
whether young or old temper our lives the same as simply growing old? Does the aging process bring wisdom or is wisdom an earned process of experiences and trials?
To answer those questions, we need to quantify what is important and how to gauge the effectiveness of how those questions
only received but ultimately answered.
When I was young, I filled my mind with the endless possibilities that
life has to offer. Any question offered
when I was young was met with that endless perspective and the unending
optimism that makes all things possible.
If I failed at one, there was an endless supply of other options to
choose from, tempering the act of failure with the never-ending possibilities
that surrounds the youth.
That perception of possibility is often born from the ignorance that failure really isn’t an option and that as long as I keep trying I will eventually succeed. Even in this statement the difference between the youthful mind and the aged mind is strikingly different, raising the question of why ignorance is important when slogging through the perils of life.
Too much understanding, it seems, defeats the inquisitive mind and destroys the motivations toward inspiration and innovation, that is until you understand that knowledge and wisdom enhance our learning by tempering the rash and volatile motivations. One example from my youth: As a teen, I wanted to make a BBQ. I did not want to buy a BBQ but looked at a steel barrel and knew that I could make one
right then and
there. What I did not know was how, but
the how had little barring and my desire to create and succeed.
I made a fatal mistake and did not listen to my grandfather who exhibited a level of patients that only bothered me because of his suggestions, albeit correct, was not within my vision of what I wanted. The wood I used to hinge the top half and bottom half of the barrel lasted about 40 minutes and then burned to a crisp, leaving my BBQ a mass of disposable metal.
All I had to do was listen but in a little truth comes the reality of human behavior and man’s inability, especially from youth to see the values of learning from another and displacing our creativity in the hands of another. Had I listened I would not have learned. I would have had a BBQ but it would never have been mine and perhaps it’s within this revelation that all things hinge.
Creativity, vision, inspiration… etc.… etc.
… is seen by many
as the driving force of innovation.
Without that creativity, there is no progress so the fine line between
learning from others and creating from motivation becomes a balancing act that
is often mitigated by the reality of any given process and the maturity that is
required when inspiration is not enough.
Life didn’t change but my perception and perspective changed, so it is with our youth. As we grow older, our perception must change or
we are enslaved to the past and the
nonsense of our youth. Youth is a
marvelous gift but in that gift are the never-ending perils of our stupidity
born from a natural gift of ignorance.
The problem with many youths is that they
fail to know what
they don’t know and as a result fail to know that the decisions they are making
are born of that childhood ignorance.
Ignorance in our small children is cute but as they grow older, we, the
adults, expect them to learn and develop. It is only when they repeatedly fail, at the
same things, that we see the often-devastating effects of those
There are extenuating circumstances
of course but they can
only go so far to excuse the behaviors that are often deadly and dangerous,
regardless of the reasons and circumstances.
Case in point: I had two brothers
who were both intelligent and personable.
Both got into drugs and both died because of those behaviors. My question has always been, why didn’t they
see what they were doing? Why could not
they recognize the patterns of self-destruction and why couldn’t they see what
they were doing to others?
The answer is actually
quite simple, they were addicted and
when a person is addicted, those addictions take control of their life, nothing
else really matters, not even life in some cases. Their peripheral vision is lost as a result
of the poignant perspective toward that addiction. They were unable to see or behave
rationally. No excuse perhaps but an explanation
that provides a logical sequence to the lives of millions in similar
The other issue that divides the old from the young is much more acute today than ever before. Wisdom was
for the most part related to those who were older or those who had gone
through the experiences that are essential to gain wisdom. In the past we generally think those with wisdom shared that knowledge and to some extent they conveyed it.
But today wisdom is not the goal and any gains in understanding should come without risk or effort. Wisdom is not a word that
is bandied about, nor sought after. Our youth believe that their youth is the
ultimate goal and society has followed suit with entire industries that focus
our attention on staying young and youthful but without the presence of experienced
Phones and instant gratification supplant the need for patients and experience. With all our knowledge at our fingertips and with the ability to “look it up” there is no perceived need for waiting, learning or even experiencing. Wisdom is no longer desired nor expected. What our youth desire most of all is the
end result. The problem is that they lack the understanding
to know what the end looks like and will most likely never know, even if they
get there. Until then those of us who
are older will just have to deal with it,
hmmm, kinda like what we have always had to do…