Last night I wrote a post about turning 50 in four days on October 16th. In response to a comment from one of my dear blog buds...Chris, I mentioned that instead of just accepting the fact that I'm 50 and being pleasantly surprised that I am enjoying this experience, I will typically tear apart the experience to examine every aspect of what it means. That is what I do, I implied in my response to her comment...I "evaluate, speculate and reiterate"...EVERYTHING. I just can't leave well enough alone. But then it occurred to me that now that I am a dottering old PHART of 50, I no longer need to explain myself nor make excuses for my eccentricities. I'm 50...most young folks write me off as being dead already or at the very least: out of touch and irrelevant. So I figure I now have carte blanche to run amok....
How cool is that? This growing old thing is a lot cooler then I thought it was going to be when I was 18 years old and thought everyone over 40 pretty much had one foot in the grave and nothing of value left to contribute to life. Yea, yea...I was that young and that DUMB! One of the pitfalls of youth and intelligence is we think we know everything when in fact we know next to NOTHING because we have no real life experience to flesh out and enhance the straight, intelligent facts and figures we are throwing around...experience provides context for that knowledge...at least in my opinion it does. Instead we throw out the quick, arrogant assumptions in our head and expect everyone else to honor them as fact and celebrate our "brilliance".
I see it everyday on FaceBook...I have some young friends/family, some who are brilliant, bright & funny young people but it's almost laughable how arrogant they are in their assumptions ..they think they know everything. Yes, I can say that...I was the very same way until LIFE kicked my ass enough times to re-educate me about a few essential facts: Things aren't always the way we perceive them to be. My reality may be ONLY that: Mine...I may indeed be the only one who thinks that way. It may not apply to one other person on the planet so how can my opinion be right if I am the only one who believes it?
In all fairness to youth, exuberance and intelligence...I think it's natural to be extremely passionate about things and defend our thoughts and opinions as if it is a life or death debate....but it's NOT that important in the bigger picture of life and living. If there a few critical things I've learned in this half century of living...one of them is that life moves at the speed of light and that it is always in flux...things never stay the same for long....Life is about CONSTANT change and the key is to be open minded and flexible enough to stay with it...sometimes that means that we are wrong and the sooner we admit that..the better. Most folks don't get this and remain inflexible and therefore...out of touch.
What may be the right thing to do today may not be the right thing to do tomorrow or or even two hour later....Life changes that FAST. The young tend to think in absolutes...things tend to be more black and white for them, right vs wrong...well my life experience has shown me that if anything life is lived almost entirely in the "GREY". Nothing is absolute or black and white...it's all variations of grey. Finding whats truly right and wrong in this world may be the most difficult challenge a person will ever face...
Most people grow out of that "my way or the highway" mindset when they have lived in the real world for awhile. And again, I am not trying to be judgmental or overly critical here...I did and said these very same things myself. And what I learned was that I was wrong...I don't know everything and I NEVER DID!
And that my friends was the key that opened a whole new door on life for me...admitting I DIDN'T know everything...that I did NOT have all the answers and that there are times when I am wrong. That seemingly innocent admission has changed the whole way i approach life and changed the way I look at it and other people. Because of it, I am more compassionate, understanding, I'm a better listener and just a better person overall. It literally was that simple for me....Plus I've now learned that late in life I don't have to carry around the entire weight of the world anymore...and what a relief that is!
Painting: Vincent Van Gogh