When I was young I had four grandparents, and a small constellation of older, wiser folks at church. In a large church, the supply of old people over 40 seemed limitless.
Two things have happened since then. I returned to walk down the halls of Sallie Curtis Elementary and was shocked at what they accomplished! The entire world of desks, chairs, scissors, toilets, sinks, the height of tiles in the hallways, cabinets under the monstrous wall of windows to the outside: all of it was scaled for munchkins, me at that age. The world was scaled for me, sized for my eyes cruising at an altitude of around three feet. The wings where older students went to school were similarly scaled.
My world was scaled to make adults seem larger than life, from my perspective. It was the same with wisdom.
Old professors, again way past 40, preached and taught at church. Teachers who were merely 30 mastered our questions, taught science, math, geography, spelling, and dispensed justice in our universes of @ 30 kids. A couple of times, the justice thing went against what I thought should have gone down, but I was obviously wrong in the face of advanced wisdom.
Well they are almost all dead. I am older. I survived 30, 50 and more. I have seen the elected officials come and go. It turns out we trust them as much as lawyers and preachers. And I have collected degrees, studied, taught (ancient over 40, remember?), and watched my friends age and have their hair turn white or turn loose.
They are not so wise. I know because I am not. For all I have learned and experienced, according to my confessions this morning, I am not wise on my best days, and far less on my worst days.
This is terribly judgmental, but I don’t see any others escaping their limitations and dumb human tricks: Pres., legislators, docs, producers, etc. We all got older, I am just unconvinced that we got smarter, and certainly not wiser.
I hope they are building the desks and toilets even smaller for my kids and students and grandkids. Otherwise, they will figure it out even earlier. Now, I think I finally understand why entertainers told us not to “trust anyone over 30” when we were in college. We would have known sooner.
I now look for what I call congruence. People tell you all sorts of windy things with which they live their lives. The ones who walk their talk, live their truths, are more congruent.
I look up to them, sort of like walking out of my first grade room and being overwhelmed by the giant accommodations over in the fifth grade wing!