Am I Wiser Now That I Am Older?
It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. Mahatma Gandhi
This is a personal blog about my wisdom, asking myself the question in my subtitle. My answer is going to be yes — which makes me feel uncomfortable, so let me explain. I am not claiming to be wiser than any of you, but wiser than I have ever been. I will be careful not to be too sure.
There is no consensus of what wisdom is or if it increases or decreases with aging. It is said to be a likely, but not inevitable, byproduct of growing older. One reason wisdom is difficult to define is its yin-yang aspect: Wisdom is founded in knowledge but its application is shaped by uncertainty; action is important, but so is reflection (judicious inaction); a sense of both independence and interdependence is required. Wisdom isn’t either/or; it is booth/and more.
I think I have discovered a useful metaphor for understanding the complicated process of acquiring wisdom. Albert Einstein’s mountain metaphor:
“Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up.”
Einstein’s mountain metaphor has made me see my concept of wisdom as a theory of wisdom. All theories are provisional, so my current concept of wisdom is provisional. My learning experiences while climbing the metaphoric mountain of life’s journey provide me with new and wider views, if I pay attention. My past still exists in me, and can be reviewed as part of my broader view, if I am reflective.I can pause at each plateau, to pay attention and reflect and gain new perspective (maybe wisdom). More mountain (my future) is still ahead of me.
My theory of wisdom has a yin-yang, both/and more aspect to it. It involves uncertainty, open-mindedness, reflection, inclusion and creating the future right behind our eyes. These have been significant elements in my history of climbing up the mountain while developing my decision making model, and now are part of my wisdom. Stay tune for more on “H B’s Theory of Wisdom”. Coming soon.
Yes I admit that I believe my previous years of experience and current point of view have made me wiser now by expanding my own wisdom (however it is defined). Of course, I will be sure not to be too sure.