I’ve often wondered what age one has to attain in order to dispense wisdom. I have I realise, dispensed a considerable amount of wisdom throughout my fifty years some of it with great confidence. I realise now that I was probably blagging it, bullshitting in a really convincing way. Convincing enough that I convinced even myself. What did I know at 20, at 30, at 40? What do I know now at 50? Am I qualified yet? Will I ever be?
I’m an avid reader of self help books, articles, web pages. I gather nuggets of information from a variety of sources, both fashionable and anecdotal, as well as the researched and codified. I like to explore the ideas behind beliefs, religions, thought processes – studying psychology itself with the Open University was a delight and gave me, I hope an ability to analyse, consider and digest. And there’s so much information, so many suggestions, so many ways to ‘be successful’, ‘live a perfect life’, ‘be the best mum’, ‘do the right thing’. The list is truly endless.
So how do you get to the point where you have the confidence to dispense wisdom? And what, in reality are people seeking when they turn to others for help? I like to say to people faced with the big decisions in life, that given enough time, those decisions generally make themselves. What we do day to day, who we do it with, where we do it are all things inevitably driven by the ebb and flow of the lives around us. We can make choices, sure, but it’s often felt to me that the real decision making is taken out of our hands. And that you can ask as many people as you like what you should do, but at some stage, you’ll find yourself somewhere you had no idea you’d be and with little real idea of how you got there.
I have a favourite phrase I repeat to myself when I’m at points in my life where I want change and it goes, ‘no Sweet, you don’t really want to be a firefighter’. There’s no way, at any point in my life, I could ever have been a firefighter, but there were times when I wanted it with all my heart – I’m five foot tall, weight 55kg and don’t like climbing ladders – not really firefighter material! Like most people sometimes I seek complete change, a totally new direction, a new me. But change doesn’t happen by deciding to be a firefighter – change happens when you choose to think a little harder about the priorities in your life, when you choose how to feel about what you do and whether it makes you happy or sad or useful or used.
Wisdom, or common sense? I couldn’t possibly say. Right now, after some major changes in my life, I’m trying to decide where to go from here. But with the maturity that is one of the few good things about getting older, I’ve decided to take my time making my decision. I’m watching the world, trying this and that, following the weather and the drift of the lives around me. Before long, I’ll find myself somewhere – there’s no rush, is there?
Maybe I should be a firefighter..?
Love and peace, Sweet