When I reflect on my life, especially when I’m speaking with a younger person, I often refer to my own moment of magic awakening, which for me came when I was 32. At that age, I discovering a deep romantic love and from that a child about to be born which radically changed my life. Finally, I felt like I was firing on all 8 cylinders, making good decisions and having a plan, or at least a notion of where my life was going. For the first time in my life I felt in charge and confident of my choices. My wife and I had another child in less than two years. For me, that transformation could have only happened once I was in a position where other people were dependent on me.
Today, I have nearly doubled in age since that awakening. The child that was about to be born 32 years ago is now himself a father and his sister is married and living in Colorado. That deep romantic love that created those two kids is today a faded memory however, the original members of our family, that is the four of us, will meet soon as a group for a long weekend, together and all together for a reunion tour of sorts. While that romance is gone, the reality and functionality of our roles as parents and a maturing, adult-based family grows and remains strong and we can all enjoy each other’s company.
I think that my 32 year old self couldn’t pull that off, yet at the time, I gave him high marks for maturity. Maybe only a 63 year old can have the experience level necessary to understand and accept why maintaining relationships, even in otherwise broken homes is important. I know many of my contemporaries can’t seem to understand it either, even given their advanced maturity levels, so it’s not a given that age alone causes enlightenment.
The longer I live, the more cognizant I become of the importance of history and the value of experience. We all know “experience” as a common word, but “experience” as a life-force, as a stringing together of years, moments, memories and lessons to form for you a clearer path into the future, based upon your knowledge-based life, is simply something unattainable without the requisite years it takes to bake that conglomeration of activities into the story of what makes you you.
The best advice I can give younger people is to embrace and study history because it is the only vision of experience you can have in the absence of forming your own. There is much to learn from others experiences, if you can learn to control your own ego. If you fail to do this, by the time you have a strong level of experience, it may be too late to apply what you have learned to anything important.
I’m looking forward to learning what I’ll think at 73.