When I’m Wiser and I’m Older…

I was out walking and “Wake Me Up,” by Avicii, started playing. The song is about waking up when everything is over, “when I’m wiser and I’m older…” And it got me thinking about that phrase “wiser and older.” Because simply growing older, and not wiser, would be a sad conclusion to life.

Right after that, a dear friend gave me a Glassy Baby. Those familiar with that amazing company know that each “baby” has a name, and the one she gave me was “WISE.” It seemed like wisdom was trying to get my attention.

So, I ‘ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Being wise includes having experience, knowledge, and sound judgment. But another, maybe equally important quality, is an awareness of life’s paradoxical nature and all its ambiguities. 

The reason that people “down the road” a bit have more opportunity to grow in wisdom is because we most likely have had our habitual and familiar lives uprooted.  We’ve had to make sense of life at other levels. “Business as usual” doesn’t work when life feels more “unusual” than anything else.

I used to live a very black and white life, which I think is indicative of younger generations. I mean, the TikTok generation has declared that side parts, skinny jeans, and the laughing emoji are out. And that’s ok. When I think back honestly, I probably would have cancelled anything that wasn’t bell bottoms and frosted white lipstick.  We just didn’t have any way to cancel things back then. We perfected the eye roll.

I had so many opinions about so many things. Right and wrong, black and white. I was forming the container that would hold my life, and it had to make sense. But the funny thing is that as we grow older, life seems to makes less sense. Our minds realize that nothing is as it seems, people are complicated, and simple answers don’t often meet all life’s complexities. It’s more gray than we realized. Judgment is hard in a gray world.

The paradoxical nature of life requires that we know how to hold everything without needing to judge it all. It’s loving those wearing a side part AND those who see the middle part as the only way. Wisdom is really about our lens, and how we interpret the world. I think wisdom looks a lot like love.

“Wisdom is clearly more than intelligence, knowledge of facts, or information. Wisdom is more synthesis than analysis, more paradoxical than linear, more a dance than a march.”

Richard Rohr

Thoughts on what wisdom looks like in everyday life?