The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. I truly hope this means I am smarter, not dumber. I prefer to think I am growing wiser and more humble with the passing of time.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates
I love this quote. I know most students think philosophy is a boring subject, but I must say, Socrates had a thing or two straight in his head. I promise, I won’t try to claim Socrates was an Irishman, so please read on.
I love to reminisce, often reflecting back on my outlook as a teenager. While I was not one to think I knew everything, I was still pretty impressed with my own supposedly, savvy view of the world. I now laugh at my own naiveté.
If I knew then, what I know now, I would never have packed my bags and headed off to India alone, nor landed in New York City, with two suitcases to my name. Fear of what might happen could easily have prevented me embarking on the greatest adventures of my life. My ignorant courage gave me the opportunity to learn through experience.
Objective understanding can fester fear. Ignorance, on the other hand, can breed courage. Even if my will to explore, was born in the sea of my own stupidity, I am thankful for the resultant experiences that have created me.
My eldest boy is still only seven. In the next ten years, I will grow dumber by the year in his estimation. I think of Mark Twain’s view of his father when he was a teenager. Twain believed his father knew nothing, when he himself was fourteen. At twenty-one, he was astounded by how much the old man had learned in seven years.
Over the decades my perspective has changed. My appetite for knowledge has expanded, but I truly understand the limits of time. Imagine a world where the opposite is true, where as we age, we grow infatuated with our own knowledge, convinced we know everything. The world would be full of sad, old fools. Ireland has the perfect saying.
“There’s no fool, like an old fool.”
Wisdom is acquired through experience, and recognizing you ‘don’t know everything’ is the very first lesson. Learning is a lifelong path, and I pray for a long, winding journey.
Perhaps, I am getting dumber with age, but at least getting older is better than the alternative. In Ireland we say:
“Be thankful for growing old; many are denied the privilege.”
So wiser or dumber, who cares? I am just happy to be granted the blessing of growing older.
Slan agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom