Reading while eating my oatmeal this morning. Good book. I recommend it.
From “Lighter as we go: virtues, character strengths, and aging” by Mindy Greenstein and Jimmie Holland, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp.151-152
The Virtue of Wisdom: knowing what we don’t know
The researchers determined that, at least in the area of understanding and trying to resolve social conflict, older is, in fact, wiser. They recommended that for this reason, elders should be included in more negotiations of social conflicts. . .Laura Carstensen and her colleagues at Stanford suggest that it isn’t only time and the accumulation of experience that account for this kind of wisdom. She argues that with age comes greater motivation to find a sense of meaning in life as well as less motivation to expand our personal horizons. The resulting perspective is likely to lead to more thoughtful, wise decisions. The ability to grow lighter as we go is a form of wisdom that entails learning how not to sweat the small stuff, learning how not to be too invested in particular outcomes (for example, being the “winner” in an argument), and accepting that while it’s worth aspiring to important goals, we won’t always achieve them.
It was a day when "livin' the good life" had real meaning. The sky was blue after days of gray and wind and there were a lot of cars sitting in various spaces throughout the Park. Hiking and running were where it was at. I was out walking, heading north on Radio Hill road toward the amphitheater. Before I knew it I was at Eyeful Vista. When I got to the amphitheater I stopped and checked my pedometer. Yikes! I had walked 2.54 miles. My limit is usually 3 miles but in the spirit of the day I had stepped a bit beyond. Heading back to the car I cut across country and discovered the Ponderosa Trail which was new to me. It took me to the intersection of the trail to McCarty's cabin where I hit the main road and went on from there.
Without showing my age I can remember when a large portion of the Park was BLM land, wide open spaces with a gravel road connecting. When the teachers would have their yearly picnics in the park we kids (my dad was a teacher) were down in the gullies and up over the hills. I remember one spot over the hill from where we usually picnicked that had a little puddle of water and wild roses growing around in the mud. Family picnics, scout events, church worship services and a drive to the end of the park on the road to the Archery Range and Lions' Youth camp were all real adventures.
I took my oldest nephew on one of Doc Hiatt's last classes about the Park. He showed us fossils and rock formations and a whole range of geologic features. Doc had more energy than any of us and was up and down the coulees like a mountain goat. He had spent 35 years roaming the hills and the gullies and exploring this wonderful spot.
It is really great to see how locals love the park and how it is becoming a destination site for many other people thanks to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Of course those of us who live here are the fortunate ones.
I have been trying to decide if the proper phrase is “older, but wiser” or “older and wiser”. If you read the two carefully you can see there is a decided difference. In the first “older” has a slightly negative note. We are older, yes, but not necessarily does that mean wiser. Wiser is like an afterthought. To say “older and wiser” sounds to me as though the two are of equal weight. To be older is to be wiser. It is part of the experience we accumulate throughout our years.
Of course than we need to define “wiser”, coming from the word “wisdom”. That doesn’t mean just knowledge, but it means knowing how to use knowledge for a greater good.
An online definition shows us that wisdom is:
the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. Synonyms get us into some other tangents such as, sagacity, intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, astuteness, smartness, judiciousness, judgment, prudence, circumspection; More logic, rationale, rationality, soundness, advisability. And the
antonyms are folly, stupidity (and dare I saw Washington, D.C.)
I like the word “sagacity” which is defined as acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment. To me it means someone who is “on top of things.” A “sage” is a person who fits this description. It is someone we all turn to to receive a word of direction. They are not people who live outside of the world we inhabit, but they are people who know how to live in this world and yet hold on to what is good and right.
As I look at these words and value the person who fits these various descriptions I am reminded that common sense, wisdom, good judgment, logic all require a person to take time to read good literature, to think before words are spoken and to consult with others before decisions are made. We live in a twitter, text, and tweet society where speed is the essence of communication and measured thought and deliberation will not win the race.
Those who practice contemplation or meditation; who write with a pen rather than a computer; who send letters by regular mail, who walk instead of run live a more measured existence. Time has a different meaning for them. They walk on the earth with a lighter step. To listen to and observe men and women of this nature is to re-establish that deeper core of who we are as human beings.