Older, Not Wiser

clockThe other day I was listening to that popular Avicii and Aloe Blacc song (you know the one) when I actually stopped to ponder the verse in which the lyrics implore:

Wake me up when it’s all over // When I’m wiser and I’m older

This line suddenly perturbed me a little bit; it purports that getting wiser is unequivocally as much a fact of life as getting older, and lately I just can’t get on board with that assumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s impossible to coast through life without learning a thing or two, even if you’re not proactively seeking out knowledge.  As they say, you learn something new every day–whether it’s a scientific theory or a new skill at your job or a piece of useless trivia (like the meaning of interrobang) or as banal a fact as what your neighbor had for dinner–you may not even realize it or consider it learning by the definition of the word, but it’s happening.  We gain knowledge without realizing it and often without actively trying; though while we may know more, we’re not necessarily wiser.

For many people, however, to be wise may mean exactly that: possessing knowledge or information.  I, on the other hand, tend to think of it more often in the context of an alternate definition, in which one who is wise has “the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment or discretion.”

It follows that being wise by the latter definition would lead us to making fewer mistakes in life.  But as certain as I am that I’m growing older, I’m equally as certain that I am NOT making fewer mistakes.  I have no better judgment than I did yesterday (at least not noticeably so), and I can’t always discern between right and wrong.  I just seem to be discovering new mistakes to make, and I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t still repeat some of the same ones I’ve made in the past.

So if getting older means getting wiser, and getting wiser means making better judgments, and making better judgments leads to making fewer mistakes, then why does my life still sometimes feel like a complete clusterfuck?

As much as I hate to admit it, I still do stupid shit reminiscent of my college days; such as, for example, accepting free shots from strangers at the bar when I’m already well on my way to forgetting the night’s events.  I could be duplicitous here and blame such poor decisions on the a-a-a-alcohol, or I could just own up to the fact that I’m repeating my mistakes of yore, despite the fact that I actually do should know better.

The above is just one [silly] example, and it’s an example of a mistake I’m sure I’ll continue to make (because, conversely, I could argue that turning down free stuff would be the real mistake in that scenario).

But there are some mistakes I would just like to stop making altogether.  I fuck up relationships.  I burn bridges.  I chase people who don’t want to be in my life.  I don’t believe in myself and as a result don’t push myself to reach my goals.  The list could go on.

I make mistakes.  A lot of them, every day.  Sometimes mistakes I’ve made before.

So I’m left wondering–when I wake up tomorrow morning, or a week from now, or three years from now–will I be wiser?  Or just older?

I guess the best that I can do for now is to learn as much as I can from each and every one of my mistakes and trust that the process of getting wiser is not one that happens overnight.

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About Leah Davis

Hey! I'm Leah. I'm a solo traveler letting my heart lead me around the world, one country at a time. I've taught English in Thailand, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, gone skydiving in Argentina, and marveled at the ruins at Machu Picchu (twice!). I love maps, strong coffee, good wine and warm climates. For even more travel talk and inspiration, you can follow my adventures on Twitter or Instagram.
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3 Responses to Older, Not Wiser

  1. This was such great read! I completely agree. I found myself having a similar moment in February when I repeated a mistake I’d made in the past and thought I’d learned from. It felt awful and I’m 110% certain it’s a mistake I won’t repeat again, so maybe you just have to live in the clusterfuck for a while till you adapt and get “wiser.” Thanks for sharing!

    • lamochilera says:

      Haha yes, I guess that will be my new goal, to navigate the clusterfuck! I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in my struggle to get better at life! We are only human, after all, but it can be frustrating. Thanks for reading!

  2. Pingback: Living in Beta | The Mochilera Diaries

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