Monday, December 10, 2012

Wisdom Through the Ages or Dumb and Dumber

Somewhere around 30 years old, we start evaluating who we are becoming and where we are headed. The First Quarter of life (education, preparation) is completed and we are now in the Second Quarter building careers and growing families. Being that we have been away from home for around 10 years, we have the separation needed to look back at the development of our selves and lives. By 30 there is also enough content to our lives to actually have something to evaluate! “Am I becoming whom I want to be? Am I headed in the direction I want to go? Is my way of being actually mine?”
By the time we are 40, we begin to realize that we have far less objectivity than we ever imagined: that our past experiences, environments, and cultures colors everything we think. Whereas, when we were younger, our decisions and choices were seen as logical conclusions drawn from objective evaluation of the facts, we now realize that most of our decisions were actually shaped and fueled by forces, experiences, and belief systems of which we were not even conscious. Sometimes the decisions accidently or fortunately worked out well, sometimes not so well. Forty is the age when we begin draping humility across every, “I know,” “I believe,” and “I think the best thing to do is…”
At 50, we are entering the Third Quarter of life and we are humming. It is also a time where many people, once again, began asking, “What do I want to do with my life? Is this really who I was meant to become? Have I been following the map handed me by someone else?” Empty nesters, having more time for each other, often discover that their relationship is shallow and brittle. Whatever issues we chose to ignore over the last 20 years, are now catching up to us. At 50 you are hoping to God for sufficient grace and time to “get it right.”
When I was 55 one of the things that shook my soul like an earthquake was the awareness that I could have avoided so many pitfalls had I surrounded myself with wise men and women who were at least 15 years older than I, opened my life to them, and heeded their counsel.
We don’t know what we don’t know. Wiser older people know where that highway will take you, as well as the one-of-three inevitable and horrid consequences of that particular choice we are thinking is so wise. Coaches, Mentors, and Counselors point out the unreasonableness of the decision which we are feeling “compelled” to make, and, usually, help us to see the drama that we are playing out is actually based on a novel written by mom and dad, some other writer and director, or by a force made up of past unresolved issues.

News-flash: When your decision has a compulsive component, when it is being propelled by an instinctual drive telling you that you must do x, that this is what is best and there is no other choice to make, stop: do not pass “go” without counseling and coaching from older and wiser people. (I learned this from the “older” Carl Jung, but can’t find the quote.)

A life-style choice of going it alone is dumb. Thinking that wisdom only comes from my own experience, rather than learning from the experience and wisdom of others is even dumber.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Monte. This is wisdom. It's clear, direct, and removes deniability.