on wisdom

“If youth is wasted on the young, then wisdom is wasted on the old.”
–George Bernard Shaw

I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to fantasizing about the “redo”. To go back in time and redo entire parts of my life, the times when I zigged when I should have zagged, taken a right at the crossroads and not the left, said the wrong thing and did something stupid. All of these moments are fresh in my memory and I replay them in my head at 3 AM when sleep evades me. It is a horrible habit and I think that rehashing all of them is incredibly unhealthy. After all, what does it actually accomplish to relive bad experiences except to bring yourself down? I can only think of one, the acquisition of wisdom.

As the Shaw quote clearly states, wisdom is wasted on the young. I believe that wisdom can only be gained through experience, often bad ones that result in a teachable moment. Youth is the time that you make the mistakes that you reflect on later. If, and only if, you learn something from it then and only then do you have the message, the takeaway that can lead to wisdom. Any attempt at wisdom by a teen, unless they can successfully convince you that they are a time traveler, will seem out of place and illegitimate. It just doesn’t fit. At least to me.

So how does the second half of Shaw’s quote work? It is a bit ambiguous and very Pigeon-holing in my eyes. How is wisdom wasted on the old? Most older people can’t wait to share their experiences and for the most part are ok enough with their past to effectively share what happened, why and the end result. My theory is that it can only be wasted on the old if a)they care not to share it, or b) nobody wants to hear it. I know when my dad tried to share it, I mostly brushed it off. I didn’t want to hear it. Of course, now I find myself talking to his stone, telling him how right he was about everything. His wisdom was not wasted on me, it just had a tape-delay.

I like to think I have some wisdom to share with anyone who wants to listen. My wisdom stems from a wide variety of fuck-ups in my life. My scars, of which I have plenty all have a tale to tell, even the ones that you can’t see. I am a walking cautionary tale. But it’s a tale I will gladly tell. But someone needs to solicit it because I am not one to offer up anything unless requested. Maybe that is how it is wasted, young people who tend to “know everything” are unlikely to ask therefore the available resource of wisdom is untapped and therefore wasted.

In closing, just as we have a world of information contained in a single cell phone, we live in the most uninformed and uneducated era in recorded history. Similarly, the older amongst us contain a veritable treasure chest of knowledge about how things happen, why and how to prevent them. But unless asked for, it will die off.

If my experiences can help just one person avoid a life-altering mistake, then all of my scars will have been worthwhile. Not wasted.

the biggest kid in the room

One of the benefits of living in your childhood home is the memories, the connections, the triggers that bring back the memories of your youth. Both good and bad I suppose, but since I have grabbed my psyche by the metaphorical balls of late, so to speak, I have been able to focus more on the good things.

A tough realization of late is that I am a big kid at heart. I love playing with small children. I enjoy dumb comedies. I say goofy things and I like to be silly and I still think nothing is more satisfying and fun than lying on the floor playing with my dog. Charlie Brown nailed it when he said, “happiness is a warm puppy.” It sure is, not much makes me happier. Charlie Brown is my hero.

I think it has affected my social life. A funny instance occurred a few weeks ago when I was out on the boat with a female companion. We were moored in a popular spot where the water is shallow for a hundred yards or so from shore. People moor there and hang out, drink or eat and swim in the shallow water. Ducks in that locale are famously used to people and are not shy about swimming up to boats. A family of ducks approached my boat and I instantly exclaimed “look, duckies!” My companion looked at me like I had three heads.
“Duckies?”
I realized that she thought I was out of my mind or grossly immature. Oh well.
“Yes, Duckies.” I said. “Sorry if it seems weird but I’m just a big kid at heart.” I leaned over the bow and made quacking noises at my visitors.
I still don’t know if that’s why I haven’t heard from her since.

I’m tired of fighting it. With all the battles I have fought with my health and other matters, my youthful, a nice way of saying emotionally stunted I suppose, outlook has kept me going and I won’t apologize for it. It’s my way of not letting my disgust with the world I currently live in from tainting my desire to move forward.

I actually think it is what my small but loyal circle likes about me and what the core of people who look to me for inspiration (not being cocky, I actually do have some patients and readers who look to me for a lift) see in me.

It’s really quite simple. Before life kicked the everloving shit out of me I was a happy, eager and optimistic kid. Without his spirit, his happy memories and almost Pollyanna’ish approach to life, older current me would be lost.

I don’t just like to be silly and goofy. I need to be. I do not,will not and cannot allow others to bring me down if I allow that inner child to exist within me. I’m the biggest kid in the room.

Deal with it.

Song lyric Sunday

Some of you may know this song by heart, some may have never heard it. It is one of those songs that proves the adage that the music you listen to in your formative years will always be sentimental to you, if not remain your favorite music. The latter has proven true for me, and in times when I lack clarity or need a reminder of what drives the blood in my veins I play those songs.

Bob Seger’s Like a Rock is the title track of his ’86 album that cemented my love of Seger’s gritty, honest, relateable songs. This song, before it became a Chevy commercial at least, was a staple in my daily playlist.

Now, as I find myself weakened and looking for strength I love this song more than ever. It reminds me of the days when I was young, strong and carefree. Of the days when I walked with my shoulders back and my chest out. When I swung an axe in the crux of a cold October afternoon in just a T shirt, my brow sweaty and my muscles tight, plowing through the woodpile my dad and I had just created. My friends were all playing football but I committed myself to the task at hand. Like a rock.

I miss that feeling, I want it back. I hope to get it back. When I hear this song I am reminded of better days and given hope that they will return.

Give it a listen will ya?

Stood there boldly
Sweatin’ in the sun
Felt like a million
Felt like number one
The height of summer
I’d never felt that strong
Like a rock

I was eighteen
Didn’t have a care
Working for peanuts
Not a dime to spare
But I was lean and
Solid everywhere
Like a rock

My hands were steady
My eyes were clear and bright
My walk had purpose
My steps were quick and light
And I held firmly
To what I felt was right
Like a rock

Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock

And I stood arrow straight
Unencumbered by the weight
Of all these hustlers and their schemes
I stood proud, I stood tall
High above it all
I still believed in my dreams

Twenty years now
Where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
I sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone

And sometimes late at night
When I’m bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin’ a ghostly white
And I recall
I recall

Like a rock, chargin’ from the gate
Like a rock, carryin’ the weight
Like a rock

Like a rock, the sun upon my skin
Like a rock, hard against the wind
Like a rock, I see myself again
Like a rock