It seems another year has come and gone. I grew a year older, but not sure if I also grew a year wiser.
It got me to thinking that age and wisdom are not necessarily inter-related.
I often use the adage, “With age comes wisdom.” Look at this genius.
I have an immense amount of respect for my elders. I personally think that my German grandmother was a very wise lady. She had the wrinkly face to match her quiet personality, and yet she had an aura of happiness and acceptance. She was non-judgemental, even though she had lived a life harsh enough to cast judgements. She was silent at times when I would have been yelling. She suffered in her long life, but she never spoke of her suffering and chose to appreciate the little joys life provided her, like the exquisite bloom of a peony or the sweet aftertaste of a fresh raspberry. I loved her dearly and knew, without question, that she was a wise wise woman.
And so, as I grow older myself, and add a few more wrinkles to my own patina, I always expected I would naturally age with the grace and wisdom that befell my grandmother. Unfortunately, after reviewing my own existence, I have to admit that wisdom is not a natural side effect of aging. Wrinkles, on the other hand, seem to eventually find us all.
Age. As I have aged, and become a wife and mother, I have viewed life through eyes less self-centred. Don’t get me wrong. I lived a full and fun life in my single years. I spent years trotting around this globe experiencing cultures very different from my own upbringing. I spent years thinking only of myself and maximizing the amount of fun I could fit into every single day. I spent years doing whatever the hell I wanted. In this phase of my life I still believed that with age came wisdom. You see, I was still too young and reckless to know any better. It was not until I had the pleasure of watching my children grow, that I began to re-assess this age = wisdom thing.
My 13 year old son, who can one minute break into contagious laughter whenever and wherever someone passes gas, can also bring back the naivete that all the wrongs in this world can still be fixed. My ten year old son can come up with ten simple strategies for avoiding world wars, and ten reasons not to eat his broccoli.
The well-aged past-leaders of Syria, Libya and Egypt have recently shown us that the age=wisdom rule is very fallible. Meanwhile young people around the world fight for the right to be heard.
“Twenty years ago, a 12-year-old rocked the Earth Summit in Rio with a plea to world leaders to get serious about saving the planet. Her name was Severn Suzuki, and today, she hands the torch to another young’un, Brittany Trilford, 17, who will address the leaders of 140 nations as the Rio+20 Earth Summit finally gets off to its official start.” Ms. Suzuki and Ms. Trillford have much to teach our esteem and learned (old) world leaders. I do wonder though, that if as Severn and Brittany grow older, will they too fall victim to the acceptance that they cannot change the world. Will age lead them away from the path of grace and wisdom. I too used to believe that world peace was possible. I too used to believe in humanity. I too used to speak out on issues I have long since accpeted cannot be changed. So – what is age bringing me if not wisdom?
Aging gracefully – not gonna happen with me. I actually get through many days now planning my old age. I am going to be a purse wielding maniac. I plan to swing this purse without prejudice and without remorse. I plan on getting even with all those who I have had to offer polite responses to insane requests. And I plan to get away with it by labeling myself a “crazy old lady”. I can’t wait. It is going to be soooo much fun.
But then I remember my grandmother emitting a peaceful grace after a life of hard living. I think of my sons who still believe in humanity. I think of Mother Teresa who asked nothing of anyone and accepted a position in life than any other person would have avoided at all costs. I think of Severn and Britanny who just might change the world. I think of my own childhood where I fought for womens’ rights even though I was just a girl. I remember telling my children that they can lead through example. Was I lying to them? Can one person change the world. Again – look to Mother Teresa. Of course one person can change the world. And, even if we cannot all be like Mother Teresa, we can make the world a little better. It was Mother Teresa who said “If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed just one.”
But then again, we can’t all be saints. If you want to know how the story ends with me, you can place your bets and take a seat and wait it out. There is no real way of knowing if I will get any wiser, but I know with certainty that I will get older. Bummer.