The Myth of Older and Wiser

Well known and cherished couplings that seem to last the test of time: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bacon and eggs, snow on Christmas morning, Willie Nelson and country music, and so on.

Older and wiser? Not so much.

The world presents us with enough evidence to confirm that few of us, very few, become wiser as we age. If I wanted to use data here, I’d make a case that at least 96% of the older among us are clearly not wiser.

I bet you that nearly every one of us older folks have said things like, “I’m sure glad I know what I know now.” And then we proceed to do the most foolish and hapless things—as though we’re suffering from amnesia and cannot rely on the memory of our youthful indiscretions to guide our behavior. It’s not as though examples of older NOT wiser behavior hide from view. The media, after all, thrives on them; frequent and blatant examples of careless acts are the Vitamin D of network news.

Something false resonates in Sinatra’s words, “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But I did it my way.” Because “my way” frequently includes a trip to the emergency room, unemployment, bankruptcy, jail time, divorce, or adulterous liaisons. Frankly, “my way” doesn’t exist. There is no “my way” when it comes to foolish behavior, rash encounters, and general imprudence. Because, in fact, my way too often resembles the way of so many older and NOT wiser characters. The my way is a road paved with embarrassing and painful examples of reckless behavior. We have plenty of examples around us—we have a veritable GPS of examples, yet we don’t use it.

Incapable of older and wiser
Older, NOT Wiser, and a Name to Go With It

A bit of anecdotal evidence: My father, who used to be a dentist before he retired, now behaves as though an all chocolate diet is healthy. My mother, who used to be a nurse, supports this practice. Older, not wiser.

Do this quick exercise: Make a list of all the older and wiser things you’ve done. Next to it, make a list of all the older and NOT wiser things you’ve done. Which list is longer?

The photocopy will live on

Of course, that probably wouldn’t be an accurate test because, remarkably, our memories don’t hold onto all of the unwise, irrational, thoughtless and reckless things we’ve done in our older years. Mercifully so.

In my case, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done something older and wiser. For example, I got rid of my snowboard last month because the image of damaging my veneers and breaking a hip had come into clearer focus as time went by. Perhaps we all need to play a video in our heads of the most likely outcome of our idiotic behavior—in full color with Surround Sound. Bring popcorn and a large soda.

Grays on Trays: Recipe for Disaster

A lot of us are expressing shock and awe over the Petraeus love quadrangle. Our reaction tells others that we believe the older, more celebrated, and most powerful among us are immune to poor judgment in some areas of their lives. Why should they be?

What does this all mean?

1. Perhaps we should be less hasty in condemning others for stupid behavior.

2. It would behoove us to use the examples of the older and NOT wiser to guide our behavior. Oddly, we rarely do.

3. Most of us seem to love a gloriously colossal fall from grace. What does that say about us?

4. Humans appear to be just as reflexive in the presence of temptation as a hungry mutt. Perhaps we’re all doomed to repeat mistakes and do stupid things.

5. Don’t wait for the news to print evidence of your less wise moments to become older and wiser.

Honestly, we will NEVER learn. Stop scolding the younger generation for being irresponsible, rash and immature. Instead, repeat and repeat often, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

167 thoughts on “The Myth of Older and Wiser

    1. No harm at all, I guess, as long as he gets some protein and vitamins from somewhere else. He is prone to fainting, which I suspect has something to do with his diet. But, in addition to being older, he’s extraordinarily stubborner.

    1. Oh, Priya – you got me there! Because, frankly, I much prefer jam over jelly. I never buy jelly. Oh, yes and there is nothing better than a grilled cheese sandwich with jam on it! That’s heavenly! When I’m much older, that’s all I’m going to eat. That and chocolate.

  1. yeah, older is not wise otherwise all old people would be democrats! LOL. well probably they would be or no…make that anarchists. I’m reading Noam Chomsky so you must excuse me. I’ve become a would-be revolutionary I fear. I want desperately to be a cranky really flamboyant elder person. I really do. I’ve carried the facade of respectability way too long.

    1. Have you always been older and funnier? Or were you just as hilarious when you were younger? If we could all carry a thriving sense of humor into our later years, the world would be a better place for everyone.

    2. Every passing day I get the older part down a little more perfectly; that being said, every passing year older still seems as distant as ever.

      Moving the goal posts is the only wise thing to do…

  2. Oh, fiddlesticks. Your dad’s just gotten wise enough to not listen to the nay-sayers. When my mom hit 88 or 89, I still was fussing about things like All That Cheese and Chicken-Fried Steak. Mom’s doctor finally fixed me with his gimlet eye and said, “Darlin’, no matter what she eats it’s not going to shorten her life at this point. LIghten up!”

    That’s wisdom. ;)

  3. I have to agree that an all-chocolate diet is NOT a good way to sail into your final chapters of life with any teeth or healthy body parts left. That said, an interesting anecdote from the nursing home where my grandpa lives. My mom (who has been in health care since the late 80′s) asked the staff about their practice of offering healthy food, but not requiring the residents to eat it. Their response was so practical – they said that for people who were clearly in their final years (or months, in so many cases at the high-level care facility), it’s not like they were going to get BETTER. They were old! Having a well-balanced diet with plenty of veggies and proteins wasn’t going to make them fit and strong again, it was just going to make them cranky. The nursing home had discovered that if a 96-year-old woman will happily show up for meals where she can have applesauce, a piece of toast with extra jam, and three bites of chicken every single day, that’s way better than trying to make everyone miserable trying to get her to eat her vegetables. (Also, as Mom quipped, if you get that old and you’re still upright and functioning, you DESERVE to have ice cream every day if you want it.)

    Still, though … I know I’m still a spring chicken for lots of people, but a) I’m going to be 40 on my next birthday, b) my knees and elbows are aging even if my face is still pretty young, and c) I’m old enough to know what the term “spring chicken” means. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I need to do NOW so that I can live in relative health and happiness for another 40 years or more. I guess I might be to the point where I shouldn’t climb the jungle gym with my kids just to show that I still can …

    1. I adore your nursing home story. To a great extent, we’ve all decided to be less picky about my Dad and Mom’s diet. What can you do when you live thousands of miles away? And the look on my Mom’s face when she’s eating a big bowl of ice cream is so priceless, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To hell with the Brussels sprouts and kale!

  4. We live in an age of extended adolescence. Sometimes it seems no one wants to grow up. At some point, though, we need mature, responsible leadership.

    There’s a difference between an all-chocolate diet (which I support 100%) and holding one of the most powerful positions in the world, with access to the most sensitive information in the world, and letting your guard down.

    As the mother of a son in military intelligence, I’d like to know that those at the highest levels of leadership can be trusted. It’s not the extramarital affair that shakes my confidence in Petraeus’ judgment. That’s human and humans will be human, and there may even be a genuine caring connection there. I don’t know and that’s not my business.

    What bothers me is that while he and Allen (and every man under their spell) were distracted by the Tampa “socialites,” countless sons’ and daughters’ lives were on the line.

    I sent them a young man of integrity and honor. I’d like — no, I NEED to know that those who hold his well-being at their fingertips are capable of good and wise judgment.

    Gotta jet. There’s a Kit Kat bar calling my name . . . .

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said here. And, though I left out a serious tone in my post, I do find it utterly shameful that Petraeus and Allen had so little regard for the consequences of their behavior and the roles they play in our government and military. It’s shocking that good judgment so horribly failed them. Though I’ve heard people claiming that it’s their “personal lives” and it shouldn’t matter, to that I say, BS! It does matter to people like your son and to thousands of other soldiers who are being expected to show good judgment in their service to the country.

    1. Yes – I’m going with all the latest research on chocolate and coffee that seem to point to them as power foods. And when I’m 91, my cabinets will be full of them. (Just hope I can remember which cabinet they’re in.)

  5. Well, I’m older and a bit more subdued than I used to be. I hold my tongue when I used to talk back. I let cars pass and zoom around me where I used to put on the gas in response to a perceived challenge. I live more in the present than I used to. But other than that, yeah, I still do stupid things. And habits are always hard to break!

    1. I’d like to think I’ve grown in the same way, Scott, but I scare myself at times. There is still something of the very NOT wise lurking under the surface. However, with age, I do apologize more quickly than I used to. That’s a start.

  6. A friend once observed that if a person is an idiot at age seven, it’s highly likely that they’ll still be one at age seventy. In the case of allegedly intelligent, highly decorated and powerful overachievers like Petraeus and Berlusconi, I think certain parts of their anatomy do way too much decision-making for them. One of my favorite political cartoons during the Lewinsky scandal was a drawing of Bill and Hillary both wearing tee shirts reading, “I’m with stupid.” Hillary’s tee shirt had an arrow pointing at Bill. Bill’s had an arrow pointing down at his crotch.

    1. I still, to this day, can’t let go of what Bill Clinton did even though Hillary appears to have. It was such an egregious mistake. But the worst examples of NOT wise that we have in history are all related to sex. So, yes, the brain isn’t entirely in control.

  7. That’s some pretty sage advice. But then again you’re just a young girl. Take it from one senior citizen who knows: most of my Social security recipient peers are a bunch of dumb-shits. Bigots who are set in their ways. Enough said…I’m off to have an all chocolate breakfast at the House of Pancakes :)

  8. I think you’ve compiled more evidence to show that we aren’t in control of our own minds, at least not completely. Our brains are usually in committee mode, and you know what brilliant decisions come out of committees. It’s sad, in a way, to realize this. But it also helps me be more tolerant and compassionate toward people who believe and behave differently — even Republicans.

    1. Oh, we so fool ourselves into believing we are so wise and in control, don’t we? And, yes, usually, one carries on an internal debate over the NOT wise deed that’s being contemplated. And there’s always one debater who has the better argument.

  9. Thought-provoking post. Makes me wonder are we ever able to turn a new leaf properly unless we are faced with a dramatic consequence if we don’t.

    My parents are great proof of your thesis. They used to walk and swim all the time. They moved up to a rural mountain in Pennsylvania and now they drive EVERYWHERE. They used to make a lot of things from scratch and now their whole diet is processed food (which I think, by the by, is a heck of a lot worse than chocolate morning noon and night, DEPENDING on the quality of the chocolate, not corn syrupy Hershey’s). Heck they even eat Lasagna out of a box now. I guess they’re entitled to not have to put so much time and effort into cooking, but it’s going to do more damage in the long run. In a recent conversation with my father, he told me that his doctor said he has to live healthier (he’s 74). I reinforced this medical advice by adding that he probably could limit chips, pretzels and ice cream every other day as opposed to daily, to which he said, without any apparent irony, and I think making his best effort to ignore what I’d said, “But like I told the doctor, I drink V8 every day!”. Um. Yes. Age and wisdom.

    1. Oh, dear. He drinks V8 every day! That’s exactly the argument my ex used to use. I’d complain that he never ate real fruit and he’d say, “I drink a glass of orange juice almost every day!” But he wasn’t 74. I believe there is no wisdom on earth ample enough and strong enough to win the battle against stubbornness.

  10. Most of us older folks who do stupid things have finally realized the stupidity of our youth, and are now making up for lost time. Chocolate diets, beer diets, high fat diets are the result of realizing that living all those youthful years of uber healthful diets, and exercise have not kept us from acquiring a mile long list of age related diseases.

    1. I can’t honestly remember eating healthy when I was a youth – at least not while my parents weren’t watching. On my own, I’d opt for a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches and a whole bag of Oreos. Of course, my stomach can’t handle that diet any longer and neither can my thighs.

  11. This one hit home…I sure have a tale to tell but I won’t cause I’m older and wiser having learned some lessons about on-line confession. But there is a common theme with the Petraeus and similar cases…”don’t write anything on the internet that you wouldn’t openly write to the entire world cause guess what? Anything and everything that we write can be opened to the entire world…I had such a fall from grace that I broke every bone in my soul…(I just made that up and I shouldn’t give it away like this but older…check…wiser…not so much) I don’t care…I’m wiser but I’m still an idiot with damage so deep that 5 years of twice weekly psychoanalytic/psychotherapy could serve only to mix it all up with the daily workings of my conscious mind…I think I forgot how to “compartmentalize”…I, and I think I can gereralize to “we” make the same mistakes over and over because our hungry and insecure little egos seek “mastery” of previous trauma and losses over and over and over…rather than learning to accept limitations…

    I think we are generally “wiser” when older…unless we have organic brain damage…but making the right choices in a given context brings into play variables that lurk beneath the surface in the swamps of denial and it takes character and integrity to recognize them when they show their surly faces and spiritual tenacity to keep them at bay. Few of us apparently have really mastered our egos…self or other?…selfish gain or sacrifice?…it seems like every apparent opportunity involves some matrix of considerations in an increasingly quantum social context…and any of us can be found out at any given time it seems if someone really wants to investigate us rigorously enough…

    I’m older and wiser. What’s harder to admit than being less than wise is that my character is not what it could be. I make selfish choices too often and this seems to always be the source of grief later…I always, atleast so far, seem to live longer than I thought I would or planned to. I never thought I’d have to live with the messes I’ve made in my life but now I am…because I have to…not because I’m wise…I wish I had sufficient character to make wise choices more frequently.

    1. From experience – whatever happens, happens for good… Mistakes are not yours or mine, they provide lessons to learn from and move on… There are tools available in the world to go the depth of your core and forgive yourself, eventually… You can visit my blog, if you like. Love you! Jyo

    2. I feel your pain so much here in your words. Thank you for sharing this. You hit the nail on the head, too. It’s our selfish selves that drive us to make the NOT wise choices we do. I can relate so well to that alone. I can even hear myself saying, “Because I want to!” without regard to the consequences. But, look, we all, everyone of us, live with the less than optimal choices we’ve made. We live with them. They are our guests. I suppose the best thing to do is to treat them well as guests and pay attention to them.

  12. Because “my way” frequently includes a trip to the emergency room, unemployment, bankruptcy, jail time, divorce, or adulterous liaisons. Frankly, “my way” doesn’t exist. There is no “my way” when it comes to foolish behavior, rash encounters, and general imprudence.”

    Love this! Congrats on being FPed.

    “Wiser” is a relative term anyway.

  13. Even when I was young, I knew the difference between right & wrong. My conscience was not terribly well developed then so, I usually made the selfish (wrong) choice. Now, my conscience is considerably more developed. It’s not that I don’t occasionally have a less than moral thought. It’s that I don’t want to deal with my guilt if I submit to my baser impulses.

  14. There are definitely a lot of examples of older and not wiser people. However, I think the really hard parts of life are “rare events,” things that don’t fit into our forecasts and outlooks. Older people have necessarily experienced more rare events, and I think that knowledge is still pretty valuable, even if older people don’t always act in the best way with that knowledge

  15. I’ve always been influneced by that old saying: “Youth is wasted on the young, wisdom on the old.” As a result, I spent a lot of my childhood learning from encyclopedias and non-fiction books, instead of reading novels… come to think of it, I was a weird kid. Anyhow, I wanted to tell you that I loved your post. From reading it, I’m now wise enough to know that I probably won’t get any wiser! :-) And congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. That’s a wonderful saying and I agree! So what if you were a weird kid?! I think you sound like you were quite an inquisitive and wise child. You sound like my younger brother, who is extremely wise now except when he decides to fast for several days while he’s driving a thousand miles to get back home.

  16. I’ve gained knowledge through life experience. I believe knowledge and wisdom are related but not quite the same thing. I feel I can pass on useful information to the young crowd because I have experienced a lot of what they are going through. BUT even though I might not make the mistakes I’ve made in the past, I make brand new mistakes! As long as we live, we learn.

  17. I hate to admit it took me several minutes… yes, minutes… to figure out what the photocopy was a picture of. This is proof of your theory… older and not wiser. In my case, not even smarter.

    As you say, I instinctively tend to think of older people… and people from history… as less behaviorally flawed. I’m not sure why. It’s just hard to wrap my head around the idea that those who appear settled, highly regarded and very responsbile could ever exhibit wildly bad judgment.

    Of course, this is completely in error… as you point out. People have always been people. People have always misbehaved. And we’ve always loved reading about it… it’s such good drama!

    1. I’m ashamed to admit that I read the stuff, too! It’s like watching a train wreck. You hope there are survivors and not a lot of blood, but you just can’t help yourself. I have to counterbalance that with reading about the truly older and wiser, however. Sometimes, that takes quite a search.

  18. Must quibble: I am older and wiser. Please understand that “wiser” doesn’t necessarily equal “wise.” It is only in relations to how stupid I used to be which makes me wiser now. This simple equation can be applied to all. There are an awful lot of stupid young people who I can only hope develop a modicum of wisdom, and many of our senior citizens, some of them running our country, seem rather ignorant and I can only imagine the levels of blockheadedness from whence they came.

    I do like being older–for I would never exchange my greater capacity to understand my world for the bloom of my youth. I suppose “wiser” implies an ability to grow as a person. Not every one has that and so, in the end, I concede your point. :-)

    1. Hey, Dawn! I, too, am older and wiser. A bit. But only because I made some stupid mistakes while I was older. I suppose we’re more capable of learning from our mistakes when we’re old enough to appreciate the consequences of repeating them. And I agree with you – I wouldn’t exchange my knowledge of the world now for what I knew as a youth – those years were so very painful. But so have been some of my older ones. Thank you for commenting!

      1. One of my very favorite quotes by Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet: On Pain

        “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
        Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
        And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
        And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
        And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

        Much of your pain is self-chosen.
        It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
        Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
        For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
        And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”

        I suppose “wiser” comes not from the acceptance of pain as a tough love teacher. None of us are immune to its sharp rap across the knuckles. Pain, like joy, are aspects of life and the more we fight pain, the more agonizing the lesson.

        The Prophet has many pearls to offer–well worth it if you’ve never read it and available online. :-)

        1. I love Kibran…first read him around 1972 and had all his books which just felt special to own…you could always read a few pages to achieve serenity…to put things back into perspective…I’ve picked up all the trash and cigarette butts around his monument across from Boston Public Library many times hoping that perhaps his spirit might favor me with some little miracle…I’ve wiped the bird shit off it quite a few times too…I used to clean it every time I went by it in fact…I just couldn’t bring myself to pass it that way…then I started doing the flower beds behind it, then the parkways and the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Common and the War Memorials and on and on…all without getting obsessive about it believe or not…

          Anyway, thanks for being a coduit of his wisdom…perhaps you’re one of the little miracles I hoped for…

        2. I wouldn’t forgo the pain that I’ve been through. I might shorten its stay and I might rather counterbalance it with a ton more joy. But it has taught me well. It has helped make me the artist I am. Thank you for the lovely poem.

  19. Absolutely superb,at this age everything should be permissive . .Thank you for keeping in touch.jalal

  20. I color my hair and plan to break out the snowboard and give it another try. I have been a skier my whole life and only gave snowboarding 2 days. I am sure the third will be the charm and I won’t bang my head like last time. Right? :)
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. The third time is a charm! It is. I was hooked after that. But I would recommend a helmet. Remember Natasha Richardson? Ow. So sad. Actually, when I took up snowboarding I bought undergear called Skeletools. These were very well padded shorts that I wore under my ski pants. They saved me from a vast number of bruises and ouches. Good luck and thank you for stopping by!

  21. First off I am going to guess you are somewhere in your 30′s and possibly maybe early 40′s. As most 20 somethings can not afford veneers, your case may be an exception. As made reference to your snow board being tucked away. Plus you mentioned your parents are retired, and then nature of their professions would lead me to believe that your parents did not decided to have you at age 16.

    I will commend you on one thing though. The thought that older may not = wiser. It is merely just an old saying, but there is some truth to the saying.

    But I strongly disagree with you.

    And I am most likely younger than you.

    1. First of all, you made my day with your guess at my age. Oh, yes, you did, especially considering my birthday was yesterday. And, there is some truth to the saying; however, it’s sad that the media picks up the millions of older NOT wiser moments and parades them in front of us for days and days. I’d love to see more examples of the axiom, though, I think that the TED talks would be a great place to start. Or, if your grandparents are still living, ask them! Thanks for stopping by!

      1. You are indeed correct, the media does like to parade those blunders of those who are old. I think there is a human interest, to prove that we are human, and those in power are human.

        I am not sure if there truly is a postulate concerning humans, and our communications.

        I could speculate all day long and back certain thoughts up with known fact or those facts that are considered to be true.

        My initial response was much longer, but much was deleted on my accord prior to posting.

        Those who are older may contain the wisdom or knowledge, however that does not mean they use that knowledge or wisdom appropriately.

        Knowledge is useless if not applied. Knowledge can only be had with time. As it takes time to understand and or to learn certain principles. Thus, it is a safe argument to say older = wiser in that regards. However, that is where the buck stops. Just because one has such knowledge does not mean they will apply it.

        However, you can learn much from those who are older, as in what to do or not to do even if they do not follow their model of knowledge.

        Unfortunately written communication is not my strong point in life. If it was I would spend endless hours compiling experiences, and information and present it to those around me.

        I do appreciate this particular blog post. Though this response, it will cause me to think about the knowledge I currently possess and find ways to apply it.

        Thank you.

        No insult was made in regards to your age. I was merely guessing. I hope I was somewhat close.

        Again Thank you.

        I will have to blog about this topic myself to an extent, when I have time. It is a wonderful topic in general, and something I have actually spent some time considering.

        1. very thoughtful comments, philosopher! There is some other ingredient, combined with knowledge that produces wisdom. I’m not sure what that is, though. Perhaps it’s the willingness and patience to stop and listen to our inner voice.

          You didn’t insult me at all – I took your age comment as a compliment, given that I’m much older.

  22. Haha this was very interesting. I like it! I know the mistakes I’ve made as an adult are way worse than when I was in high school.

    1. That’s why I think parenting has got to be so difficult and painful – you have to let your kids learn through their own experience. You have to watch them make some of the same mistakes you did. Ouch. It can’t be an easy thing to get through. Thank you, Jyo!

  23. Not sure putting the snow board away qualifies as wiser….it’s just more cautious and is being more cautious wiser or more limiting…interesting blog that got me thinking..btw my 87 yo dad thinks it’s fine to live on hotdogs straight out of the fridge as long as he ads a tomato slice

    1. I laughed out loud! Your poor dad can’t work the microwave or he just likes cold tube steak, eh? As far as the snowboard thing, well, these bones are brittler, the dental work is expensive, and recovery time a lot shorter. So, it’s a combination of wisdom and caution. Let’s go with that.

  24. Older is definitely NOT wiser. While there are plenty of older people that are wise and know how to convey that wisdom without sounding boring and shallow, the majority of people aren’t. Not in my life anyway.

    1. And that has got to be painful, huh? But there is a continuum of NOT wise behavior, fortunately, so the least egregious of those NOT wise moments do exist, sandwiched between the really wise and the utterly, embarrassingly, career-ending NOT WISE.

  25. Ha ha! People are stupid at any age. I believe we are desensitized – TV, movies, Youtube for Pete’s sake! You just can’t watch everything and not be affected in your on lives. Shock and awe has its own burn level. Great article!! Weren’t you Pressed another time too? Good for you!!

  26. Well done exposing this myth! What you say is so true, there really doesn’t seem to be much correlation between age and wisdom, if any at all. I dunno, maybe it’s because there’s not a whole lot else great about being old. I mean in most cases those over 70 are tired, sore and dealing with physical complaints and a changing world that’s quickly leaving them behind :(

    “I guess we have to give em something, how about wisdom? Yeah, sure, that’s ambiguous enough to get away with!”

    Those ‘road to Damascus’ moments of transformation are extremely rare, people tend to remain the same level of “Wise” from a young age until they pass away.

    Thanks for sharing this witty and thought provoking post :)

    Rohan.

    1. You’re very sweet, Rohan! But I hope that there will be much to look forward to through the coming years. And considering how utterly ignorant and NOT wise I was as a youth, I’m proud of the little bit of wisdom I’ve managed to lug along after me. Anyway, “older and wiser” sounds so much more flattering than “older and wrinklier.”

      1. Haha, oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a thing or two in my time, and I’m sure you have too. But as you say, I don’t think Age = Wisdom, at least not in such stark and generalized terms!

        I’m sure you’ll have lot’s to look forward to :)

  27. You make some really good points here as far as the economy is concerned. In that case though, older isn’t wiser, but very old tends to be very wise. People in my parent’s generation (excluding my parents themselves of course) made some foolish economic decisions because they wouldn’t listen to people of my grandparents’ generation who had lived through the Depression. As a result, history repeated itself. Now everyone wonders why this next generation is having so much trouble getting on its financial feet.

    1. I’ve been reading a bit about the Millennials lately, and I’m encouraged. Their values are different from the Boomers and the Depression Babies, but they seem to be a very resilient generation. And they are better poised to take advantage of the technologies being developed. I’m an optimist at heart; I know that things are getting better. It’s a long, slow journey.

  28. Wisdom does NOT come with age. I’ve seen people who act like pharisees with their ‘been-there-done-that’ and ‘I-told-you-so’ attitude because of their age who, in the end, get their well-deserved in-your-face ‘you-were-wrong-after-all’ b*tch slap.

    1. Yes, it’s best to travel this world with a great deal of humility. Pride goeth before a fall, as the saying goes. And the fall from your perch is so much more painful when you’ve spent your time announcing your superior wisdom to everyone. Good thoughts – thank you!

    1. And what is it that lets the four-year old out? Stress, temptation, a weak moment of self-control? I wonder, I really do. Because it seems that any one of us is always teetering on the brink of doing something horribly unwise. I think my secret to keeping the four-year old at bay is by avoiding people altogether. No social life, no temptations. Thank you for being here, Matthew!

  29. I can hardly find any wise old man figure in our society but few. Most people think they are always right, and that, i suppose that makes them unwise. Realizing that we are not always right, i think, could make us a bit wiser.

    1. Very brilliant point – yes! Admitting that we aren’t wise is the first step. I suppose if a person believes they’re full of wisdom, he or she might not see the temptation when it arrives and will stumble into the mistake. Best to be humble in this world, eh?

  30. This post made me laugh so hard! My father has the tendency to make older and NOT wise decisions, and has gotten into some pretty hilarious habits. It’s funny now, but I have a feeling that people other than me will begin to notice these bad habits… thanks again!
    ~ nerdiwthtaste.wordpress.com

    1. Are you a little bit worried that you might turn into your father someday? Just a bit? He’s fortunate to have a child who finds him funny and not annoying. But you do have to laugh, I say, otherwise you might cry.

      1. I’m not really narcissistic, and neither is he, but I hope that my finding his habits annoying will save me from pain in the future…

  31. STUFF!!! geesthis is getting a bit beyond Blogdom! Maybez youse should be in syndication….as soon as I buy a newspaper I am putting you in! “Older& wiser” I mostly worry about ‘Older and Wider” good thing I gotz a bike! I did get a little wiser….No longer high dive off quarry walls…..no longer regret my divorce….there are some others…but I am so forgetful in my old age

    1. Thank you!

      Good point – I wonder sometimes if I do see myself objectively. I like to think so, but I’m not sure. Frankly, I do see myself as being wiser – HOWEVER, I rarely come across any temptations – the benefit (?) of being somewhat reclusive, I guess.

  32. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! Great post, well-deserved. I will never be described as “older but wiser” because I can’t even remember my age! Seriously, I have to think about it sometimes. I hope I never have to think about whether or not I should be eating chocolate. I know I often forget how much I’ve consumed at a sitting. (How convenient!) Your father is my hero!

    1. I just had a birthday the other day. I refuse to do the math. I feel no need or desire to mention the number. Yes, I’m older and I’m grateful to be saying that in good health. Wiser? I still don’t know. I’ll get back to you in about a dozen years!

  33. Congrats on Freshly Pressed! Very well deserved. I am getting older, less wiser and more likely to say screw it and eat that chocolate. I always have to laugh at these big news-making scandals. They never surprise me at all. Humans will always do dumb things and try to get away with it.

  34. poor silvio. he was wise enough to change many laws/rules whilst he was in power to make sure he could get away with doing what he wanted! thanks.

  35. Oh my. I’ve been waiting quite a long lifetime, now, for the wiser part to kick in. I thought that wisdom was supposed to be the recompense for getting old. It hasn’t worked for me. I’ve repeated the same mistakes over and over, like the groove in the record got too deep to push the needle off.

    Where’d you get that shot of me with my head in the snow, btw? I swear, I’ll not give up my tray! My mentor was 79 years old! He did eventually die, but not from snowboarding.

    I like your point, though. About how easy it is to judge the errors of someone else’s way. It is such a cheap shot and it takes our eye off the ball. Of course, if it were John Boehner, I’m sure I’d find it difficult to withhold my titters.

    1. Hey, Linda! I can name a few mistakes I’ve seen before, too. Why do some situations just seem “different” when they truly aren’t? Are we doomed to always act in the moment?

      I gave up my tray because I just didn’t feel like driving up to Bogus to use it. Just seemed a long way – plus, I need a less crowded slope – too many youngsters crashed into me!

  36. This makes me think of a portion of Walden by Henry David Thoreau:

    “What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields. What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. Old people did not know enough once, perchance, to fetch fresh fuel to keep the fire a-going; new people put a little dry wood under a pot, and are whirled round the globe with the speed of birds, in a way to kill old people, as the phrase is. Age is no better, hardly so well, 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. Practically, the old have no very important advice to give the young, their own experience has been so partial, and their lives have been such miserable failures, for private reasons, as they must believe; and it may be that they have some faith left which belies that experience, and they are only less young than they were. I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing, and probably cannot tell me anything to the purpose.”

    Good entry.

  37. Yikes…as a very mature woman who feels wiser by the year, I am trying hard not to take offense. Interesting to note that a lot of the examples in photos were men who might be considered sociopaths by many! Seems the wise older person does not try to stand in the middle of the spotlight 24/7 as they are wise enough to know when to allow others to shine or as Johnny Carson once said “know when to leave the fair”. Besides..who says a wise person is going to be wise in all things and never have a weak point? I don’t remember being taught that. Are we not all human and thereby fallible?

    1. Goodness! No reason to take offense! I could have listed more examples of the clearly NOT wise, but who needed that litany of pain? But you made my point and justified my post’s title in your last couple of sentences, so thank you. Yes, we’re all fallible. However, not all of us are so spectacularly and publicly fallible, thank goodness.

  38. “Wisdom doesn’t automatically come with old age. Nothing does – except wrinkles. It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place”

  39. The Petraeus thing is sad, but not surprising to me. There are so many tales of sex and power. And the same qualities that drive someone to that level of success give them the arrogance to think the same rules don’t quite apply. I don’t forgive so much as understand.

    But outside the high-visibility offenders, I think age does bring some wisdom. As many have pointed out, at 81 a diet of chocolate does little harm (so long as there is some other intake for survival).

    Sometimes wisdom doesn’t mean taking no chances; it means having a better understanding of the risks you do take. I always loved the Hunter S. Thompson quote, ‘Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!’

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