Older and Wiser? Not on Your Life.

La Recoleta Cemetery has 4691 above ground vaults.
La Recoleta Cemetery has 4691 above ground vaults.
Hailed as one of the 10 most beautiful by CNN, La Recoleta covers 14 acres in a neighbor-hood of Buenos Aires.
Hailed as one of the 10 most beautiful by CNN, La Recoleta covers 14 acres in a neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

 

There are 80 cats at the Recoleta cared for, spay/neutered and fed twice a day.
There are 80 cats at the Recoleta cared for,spay/neutered and fed twice a day.

Are you waiting for the moment when your hair turns white and you become patient and wise? Do you think as you age you will become wiser?

Don’t depend on it.

If you were wise at 30, perhaps you’ll be wise at 60, but most of us weren’t wise at 30. 

Growing older does not make you wiser -a grueling but smart disappointment to grasp facing the precipice of a new life stage.

What is the “smart” part of this disappointment? That would be to rely on the truth of your experiences and the information at hand, then make a move or don’t make one.

What if you are stuck or confused? A circle of discussion may be helpful for understanding but you won’t find true wisdom. You only inch toward wisdom when you execute your best judgment. In that forward movement, you’ll discover more than you know now. 

Can we make good decisions without true wisdom?

We can actually do this, not because we know all the answers to the questions, but because we know enough.

The best to hope for is to remember all your life lessons and try hard not to repeat them or versions of them.

Where to start? Not with the second step or the third, but the first – the one close in – as the poet David Whyte describes in his poem below.

For me a walk in a cemetery – spectacular like La Recoleta or a humble hilltop jumble of markers in Kentucky – inspires moments when I can best calculate what I know most about living. 

Others, like the author of Winnie-the-Pooh, find nature inspires contemplation on the unknowns of life.

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
A.A. Milne

If you’ve wondered how to live in the second half of your life, don’t chase wisdom.

Find your noiseless place, think about everything you know, then take the first step. That’s a close to wisdom as you’ll ever need to get.

 

start close in ~david whyte

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,River Flow
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

 

 

 

 

 

About Barbara Pagano

Barbara Pagano,Ed.S., author and speaker, influenced over 3,500 executives in organizations to achieve higher performance. She is now on a mission to help individuals extend their career arcs and craft lifestyles of productive longevity.
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2 Responses to Older and Wiser? Not on Your Life.

  1. Barbara Pagano says:

    David Whyte’s expressive language never fails to take me forward either in my thinking or doing. He is a master of his craft. Very glad you enjoyed his work.

  2. Lisa Grubbs says:

    I love this poem and while I am not in the demographic you are writing for, so much can be learned by studying those who have lived a little more life than I. I love the poem…..taking the first step is so hard and yet much better than skipping to the second.

Would love to hear what you are thinking.