Monday, February 13, 2017

What Old is Not

Time passes.  We get old every month, every day, every hour, every moment.  We grow old slowly but surely, and each birthday, we add a year to our age.  However, there are some people who cannot stand the thought of ageing, and I think it's mostly because they don't want to imagine themselves like -- pardon the expression -- a wrinkled prune.  

I don't think of ageing that way.  I think of the past year as 365.25 days' worth of experiences -- good ones, bad ones, those I want to remember, and those I want to forget -- all worth learning from.  But as I ponder about ageing, I am convinced of the following:

1.  Old is not the same as wise.

 "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." 
― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Many people gain knowledge, but only a few gain wisdom.  Age is not a guarantee of becoming wise, and even old people can be fools.  Truly wise people are hard to come by, and they are usually the ones who don't insist on being heard.

2.  Old is not the same as right.

“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

No one knows everything, and no one is ever right all the time.  Even old people can be mistaken. However, it takes a humility to accept when you are wrong and someone else is right, and this can be hard for some old ones.  

3.  Old age does not guarantee respect.   

"You're right. I'm older. You've lived longer than me, but I'm older than you. And better 'n' you. And madam, that ain't hard."
―  Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies 

It is easy to show the elderly courtesy, but respect needs to be earned, no matter what age a person may be.  It cannot be demanded of other people, neither can it be bought with money or promises.    

Come to think of it, being young does not mean being wise, being right, or being respectable either. Both youth and elderly can be, though.

In all, I think it's a matter how we value our time.  If we experience but not learn, if we grow old but not grow up, and if we only want the world to revolve around us, then we probably didn't make good use of what happened in the past 365.25 days.