Someone once described adolescence and early adulthood as the age of “anti-wisdom.” Developmentally, it is a time when we are certain of all the answers to life’s questions (no matter how insecure we really are) and “adults” who tell us otherwise are imbeciles, idiots and fools. It’s been quite a while now, but I remember being there. Do you?
As I have grown older, I have realized that not only do I not have the answers to life’s questions; I’m not even sure what the questions are.
Life has consistently presented me with lessons about how much I don’t know, and how much I don’t control. Strangely, these lessons have been positive, at times even comforting. If I could travel back in time to tell this to my 19-year-old self, he would surely laugh in my face. (And then go have a drink.)
Here is my new definition for “wisdom”:
“Wisdom is the increasing knowledge of all that I do not know, and all that I do not control.”
The two lists have been growing steadily, and I suspect they will continue to do so. Genuine wisdom is a humbling experience.