Age is no better … qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.
—Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau had a much grimmer view of age than I did when I was younger/than I do now. I’ve never wished that I could go back in time. Getting older is scary at times, and I might wish that parts of my body worked better and that it wouldn’t continue to age, but I think I’ve profited more than I’ve lost. I value the experiences I’ve had and the things I’ve learned — I wouldn’t be willing to give them up if I had a choice of being younger again. My guess is a lot of people interested in lifelong learning feel the same way. What do you think?

Do I think that I’ve learned anything of “absolute value”? That I’ve gained some sort of wisdom? No, I’ll agree with Thoreau on that. I’ve figured out what works for me at this point in time and am too busy enjoying it while it lasts. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it would work for someone else — we’re all different and have to figure it out for ourselves. Also the term “wise” is way too stuffy for me — it’s too serious. I prefer a lighter approach to life. Brian Crane, creator of Pickles, is more my kind of guy:

What about you? Would you go back in time if you could? Do you feel you have wisdom to dispense to younger people?

Thanks to Maria, tammy, Cathy, Dixie, bikehikebabe and Rummuser for commenting on last week’s post.
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14 Responses to Age

  1. Mike says:

    I wouldn’t go very far back in time, if I could, for this period in history is the healthiest and wealthiest for mankind in general. So far as wisdom to dispense, when I’m on a contract, I teach. Unfortunately, a week ago, some of my former students had to use some of what I taught immediately after the industrial accident at Arkansas Nuclear One, before they even knew what had happened.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Nymph and Dream Lakes Hike.

  2. bikehikebabe says:

    I’ve thought: Would I want to be that pretty young girl with her life ahead of her– & not me? I’m surprised by my answer. NO
    I like being me & have earned what evolved into me.

    I have a badge that says, AGED TO PERFECTION. (The aged part is right. 🙂

  3. Evan says:

    I’d be happy to be about 10 years younger.

    I do think I can offer advice on some things. But usually it is better to listen and help people figure out things for themselves.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Attitude #1 – remembering we have a choice

  4. Jean says:

    At least you know your work is worthwhile! And presumably your students are motivated, which helps a lot.

    I agree with you that we’ve been extremely lucky to live in these halcyon years.

    Good for you! Because of your joint replacements I would have guessed you would have gone back a bit. I love the badge. 🙂

    I too used to spend a lot of time listening to, and being supportive of, others. I finally decided my whole approach to life was more creative than most people’s — they weren’t interested in that way of being in the world so when I focused on them I had to stifle that part of myself. It was time to move on. That’s why I wouldn’t give up the past ten years for the sake of being younger. It’s a fun thing to ponder, isn’t it?

  5. tammy j says:

    LOL. i love bhb’s badge! like a fine cheese? no wine. 🙂
    i think sometimes thoreau almost seemed depressed. and he did live in a rather somber period of history maybe. also he was quite ill. and then he died quite young. so maybe he ‘felt’ vert old before his time! all the more poignant for his message.
    i don’t feel wise!!! sometimes i think jacob and i are exactly on the same page. good or not. (jacob is 8)
    i do however get REALLY irritated at young married couples who take their marriage and life for granted and bicker about the stupidest things. i want to say ~ go visit a cancer ward where the wife (or husband) is sitting there watching the person they took a vow with ~ die a horrible death.
    THEN. then go home and fight about your STUPID laundry and who’s turn it is to do it!
    whew. ok. i’m through now.
    tammy j´s last blog post ..oklahoma rain

  6. Jean says:

    You might be right about Thoreau. He was only 44 when he died of tuberculosis, and as I recall his brother had already died of it. He did seem to focus a lot on the things that he didn’t like. As do a lot of people, I’m afraid!

    I hope you got some rain.

  7. Rummuser says:

    No thank you. The Pickles cartoon is exactly how I feel. I have Ranjan to do that for me and I am very comfortable letting him be wise.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Halle Berry At Her Best.

  8. Jean says:

    Yes, Pickles is one of my favorite cartoons. 🙂

  9. Dixie says:

    I would not go back, even though the Fibromyalgia has hindered many years. I think I’ve needed every experience to make me who I am… (akin to bikehikebabe’s comment)

    Regarding Thoreau, I’d like to think he changed his mind, through continued pondering.

    Youth. There’s a family of children on my street who (NOW) seek me out. Five who take daily walks… all related… ages 3- 13. It all began with a turtle who was too slow crossing the road. They were crying every time a car went by. I picked up the turtle and moved him out of the road; I’ve been a ‘hero’ ever since.(smile) Wisdom? Absolute value? Being an example? I don’t know. It seemed like the answer at the time.
    Dixie´s last blog post ..modern conversation

  10. Jean says:

    The interesting thing about Thoreau was he was only at the cabin for a little over two years but it took him almost nine years to finish the book. He had plenty of time to think about what he was writing.

    That’s neat that you rescued the turtle. I can see why you’re regarded as a hero. 🙂

  11. Cathy in NZ says:

    There are parts of my life I would like to delete and rejig to have a better outcome…

    They are rejigged now, but I feel I gave in too easily on some matters because it was easier than what would happen…

    I’ve had a checkered life but now as I reflect on portions of it I can see it was all along the pathway of life. Some parts of it shock folk when I can wing it with a conversation they do not expect me to be knowledgeable in. (Sorry classified information)

    One part, I would like to slightly change is how I “look right now” – folk all the time get a big shock that I’m actually a decade older than I look! So they are expecting that I’m in a career changing mode when in actually fact I’m in the new mode of life, slowing down and doing whatever I like to fill in my days!
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Art, University, Other…

  12. Rummuser says:

    Cathy, that is a remarkable comment. My compliments.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Kids.

  13. Jean says:

    What a great opportunity that look of shock is! You have their attention and you can be a role model for their future, explaining the freedom that creative aging can bring.

    At the moment one of the books I’m reading is Creative Aging, Discovering the Unexpected Joys of Later Life Through Personality Type. I don’t agree with everything Millner writes but I definitely agree with the joy. I especially like the fact she recognizes that one size doesn’t fit all and that she tells different people’s stories. I love my life and enjoy reading about how other creative people are living theirs.

  14. Jean says:

    PS If you feel uncomfortable with people’s shock when you defy (exceed?) their expectations you might think of the saying, “Don’t fit in. Stand out!” You certainly do stand out. Some of us love that fact even if you don’t always. 🙂

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