wisdom

I was with my friend, Coby.


“If you could do it again,” he said, “what would you change?”


“I’ve thought about that and, for one thing, I’d be a lot more interesting.”


He laughed. “How, exactly? How would you pull it off?”


“I’d say ‘yes’ a lot of the times I said ‘no’, and ‘no’ a lot of the times I said ‘yes’. I’d say what was on my mind. And I’d be more openly ignorant. I’d no longer let pass what I didn’t understand. I’d ask a lot more questions, be a lot more engaged, more interested.”

 

“Becoming less ignorant in the process.”


“Exactly. And a much-improved conversationalist. And, thereby, more interesting. You get what you give—to be more interesting, be more interested. Right? Works most of the time, anyway. So that’s what I’d change. How about you? What would you change?”


“It’s a cliché, I know, but I’m happy where I am and couldn’t have gotten here any other way, so I wouldn’t change a thing.”


“But, had you done something different, you might be even happier than you are.”


“Maybe. Maybe not. Doesn’t much matter, does it.“


“Hardly at all.”


We were quiet for a bit.


“The reason this stuff’s been on my mind,” I said, “just last week, an old friend asked if my granddaughters had come to me yet for words of wisdom. I told him they hadn’t and probably never would, that they were no dummies—they knew better to consider me a source of wisdom. He asked what I’d tell them if they did come to me. I hemmed and hawed, then said I didn’t know, I’d have to think about it. And that’s what I’ve been doing, recently—thinking about it.”


“And this is what you’ve come up with? Be more openly ignorant?”


“I know. My granddaughters are right about me, aren’t they.”


"You know what I think? I think it’s a big load of nonsense, this wisdom coming with age thing—a myth passed along by elders to keep the young in thrall. From an early age, we’re taught to respect and venerate our elders, and it works. It did with me, anyway. It wasn’t till I’d become one, myself, that I realized how undeserving of respect and veneration elders truly are.”


“I know what you mean.”


“You’re either wise or you’re not—that’s what I think. Age has little, if anything, to do with it. Case in point—Greta Thunberg."


"And Trump."


“Right. And Trump.”