Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wisdom is the child of regret

In two weeks time I will be thirty four years old, closer to forty than I am to twenty. Youth is passing and the middle years approach.

At times like this, the mind turns to that most deadly of speculations: "if only I knew then what I know now...what could I have done differently? What have I done with my life?" If I could go back twenty years, imagine all the mistakes I would not make...

Everyone thinks this. It's a common indulgence...but supposing you could go back in time and do it over, would it really be better? Or would you be so paralyzed about messing up again that end up not doing anything?

It is the privilege of youth that one is ignorant of limitations. When you're young you do stupid things because you don't know any better. You're gonna live forever, the world is yours for the taking. Those older and wiser try to tell you otherwise, but you don't understand, such knowledge only comes from experience. To return to youthful strength with the sorrows of age is an act doomed to failure, since he has the energy of the young, but lacks the unknowing confidence that gives it purpose. Old souls in young skins, doomed to paralysis.

Regret us a necessary condition for the soul, it is the father of wisdom. We all have regrets, choices made or not made, opportunities lost. A man who gains success young looks back and wishes he'd taken a slower path, with more time to enjoy life. One who accomplishes little of merit in the eyes of others fears he has squandered his youth. But with regret comes awareness of ones limitations and strengths. The early achiever has the means to rake his life in a new direction. The slacker finds that doing little with his life offers much time for self-reflection.

I will miss my youth when it is gone. But I will not waste my days trying to bring it back. Youth is precious, but moreso is the wisdom that marks it's ultimate end.

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