“Love alone is a kind of reality with no manifestation, since love makes itself manifest in wisdom; and wisdom without love is like a manifestation with no reality, since wisdom is a manifestation of love.”
– Emmanuel Swedenborg
As I grow older, I’m surprised that I don’t have the same kind of terror associated with age that I’m told I’m supposed to have. Instead of feeling terrified because I’m closer to death, or that I’ve not accomplished my dreams yet, I feel so much more confident and happy than I expected I would be. I think it’s because I know more—I am wiser.
I value this wisdom because I did a lot of stupid things when I was younger, and I also wasted far too much of my time on things that did not truly matter.
Today, the things that younger people freak out about, don’t even phase me, and it makes me chuckle to think I ever worried about it. I can’t imagine then what it’s like to be even older and even wiser–those folks must look at my “problems” with great amusement and greater clarity.
Is Old Age Wasted On The Old?
I sort of wish the older people in my life had focused more on all the wisdom that is gained with old age.
I remember when I was a teenager and people in my life who were in their 20’s and 30’s always warned me to enjoy my youth and that being older was miserable and that it was much better to be young.
Now that I am a year away from 30, I realize now that the people who believed that their lives were terrible because of how old they were were people who lacked wisdom not youth. For wisdom reveals to you that there is no other time than this very moment and that this very moment is full of magic and possibility.
Youth tells you that your time is running out and that you won’t have a second chance. Whereas wisdom tells you that time is infinite and that there’s always a second chance.
Youth tells you that you need to be someone else to impress your friends and co-workers because this is the only world you will ever know; whereas wisdom tells you that you don’t need to impress anybody, and that you can save far more energy being yourself—and that you will come to know many different people throughout your life, and that the people who matter will love you for who you are.
Wisdom says you’re protected; whereas youth says that you are vulnerable because you are new and naive to the world.
Wisdom says you are loved. Wisdom says that love is abundant. Wisdom says that wealth is inside of you. Wisdom says that only perspective can bring you true joy.
Youth, on the other hand, is fearful that it is not loved enough. Youth believes that love and wealth and joy are scarce and must be latched on to. Youth says that one day your bones will break, and your health will deteriorate, and your mind will go numb and forgetful, and your soul will get crushed, and your heart will be broken and you will be left alone one day. Youth does not know any better.
But Wisdom does.
Wisdom reminds you that your soul is unbreakable, that your body, should it deteriorate, isn’t you and so the essence of who you are can never be damaged. Wisdom reminds you that your mind isn’t who you are either and that your soul will always remember every moment until infinity. Wisdom tells you that love could heal every broken heart and that we are never alone. God is always with us.
Wisdom is intelligent. Youth is stupid.
Wisdom is resourceful. Youth is reckless and wasteful.
Wisdom is beautiful because it lasts. Youth is ugly and awkward precisely because it is temporary (and therefore is an illusion).
Youth is powerless because it rules over a kingdom that is set to explode. Wisdom is emperor because He rules over a kingdom that is set to continue to expand through the eons.
We are told youth is where it’s at and that the old is where it’s not. But every youth was born of the old, and so isn’t the more fascinating journey the one that takes you to the origin of youth, and not to its conclusion? Wisdom is more valuable than Youth precisely because Wisdom is Youth’s mother, and therefore Youth would be nothing without Wisdom. Youth is a sad child who does not know from whom His life-giving milk comes from.
Youth is disconnected. Youth is lost. Youth needs to find its way back home again…. back to wisdom.
And the old: they should value what they have been given; after all, wisdom is something that Youth could never possess no matter how hard Youth tries. Maybe, instead of chiding youth for wasting their youth, the old should be chided for wasting something far more valuable that only they can ever posses: their wisdom.
Why Wisdom Is More Valuable Than Youth
There are not many people championing wisdom out there. I suppose no one wants to go against the grain. I mean, how much interest would an article entitled “how to be more wise” generate over an article entitled “how to look more young.” Almost no one would read the former, and nearly everyone would desperately want to read the latter.
You see, I already know that I, as a champion for wisdom, am at a hilarious disadvantage: no one seems to be very interested in the power of wisdom these days. But it does not stop me for being very adamant about the need for wisdom. Ours is a culture hungry for wisdom. Ours is a culture dying for wisdom. Ours is a species that must become wise quickly or risk becoming extinct.
That is how important wisdom is and that is why I am wisdom’s champion and will continue to be until the day I die–no matter how “unpopular” wisdom seems to be in the mainstream.
Wisdom saved me through the darkest of my nights. Wisdom has nourished me. Wisdom has loved me. Wisdom has listened to my cries and has validated me. Wisdom is tender and sensitive. Wisdom is what gives me hope, and wisdom is what gives me faith–the most unwavering type of faith anyone could ever have.
Youth has never given me any of that. Instead, youth gave me insecurity. Youth gave me low self-esteem. Youth gave me anxiety and depression. Youth gave me fear. Youth gave me a constant sense of feeling incomplete–a feeling of not being enough, no matter how hard I tried.
Oh my gosh: I would much rather be wise than nineteen again. I love learning, I love growing, I love learning new skills and experiencing new things and meeting new people. I love going through phases of life I have never gone through before. I love having the feeling that I can reinvent myself and that I don’t have to be stuck in the style and culture of 1993 forever.
I like that I don’t look exactly like I did in that picture when I was in college. That my eyes look a bit more weary, and that my hair is starting to recede a bit, and that I’ve gotten chubbier, and that my clothing style has changed and that I am now following a different dream than the one I had at 20.
I like it because it means that I learned something along the way as the years went by–and I have the physical proof that life is doing something to me. It is changing me. I like it because I did something with the time I’ve been given so far: I’ve transmuted that time into the most valuable base metal anyone could ever possess: WISDOM.
I’m not who I once was, and far from being nostalgic about that, I’m very content about it because today I’m someone much better; and although I might look older, I wouldn’t change that part of me for the world.
So that is why I ask: why can’t we all value the wisdom we are gaining, than become panicked at all the youth we are losing? Why can’t we all celebrate and focus on all the wisdom that exists–more than enough wisdom for everyone–than desperately cling or fight over the youth that exists that is so fleeting and so scarce? Why can’t we know that in the wisdom there is far much more to gain and far much more to value than what can be gained and valued by remaining in a frozen state of youth?
What youth can teach us is limited, and has been far too overvalued in today’s society—for it is only in growing older that we can truly learn. If we stay young then we stunt our spiritual growth.
As we all well know, one day the youth of today will be the old of tomorrow, and just because they don’t realize that yet doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind them of this. We owe it to them. And we owe it to ourselves to honor the wisdom of our years and to not get caught up in a society obsessed with youth.
So seek wisdom, not youth. Seek knowledge from your years, not the permanence of youthful looks. Seek experience from the passage of time, not praise for a temporary physical state. Seek humility as youth passes, for that is what youth is here to teach us all.
In giving us a physical state that is temporary, life is asking us to see beyond it, to what lasts.
much “love is wisdom”,
Today’s Courage Exercise
Become obsessed with the pursuit of wisdom, not youth. If you feel the need to run after youth, see this chase as a practice in humility–for all youth, no matter how hard we try to keep it, will pass away from us.
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