Wisdom doesn’t have to be reserved for your latter years.
Yian Yang via NJ.com
Old people are wise people. The archetype white haired, monocol yielding man has it right. But, why? Why don’t younger people carry the virtue of wisdom? (Or, at least, it’s cliche)
Some of the explanation can be found in one of the saddest meta-realizations. It’s recognizing that realizations often time come during terrible milestones in our lives, most specifically, after a brush with death, upon experiencing the death of a loved one, or in the case of the old wise man, on one’s death bed.
Knowing this however, can be one of your most effective tools when pursuing your passions. I personally have friends with unbelievable ideas for business, for life, for their next vacation, for the quirky name of their new pet goldfish. I do the same thing, in fact I’m sure I have friends who nod their head and yawn when I come up with a new business idea. Ninety-nine percent of the time, excuses are the only things holding us back. If you want it, go after the resources that will make it happen. In theory, it’s easier said than done, but in reality, that is the cold hard truth.
And the worst is, we don’t relegate this suppression of opportunity and passion to the tallest of tasks. Rather, we do this everyday. We fail to ask for a raise despite our efforts. We go another day without talking to a family member, or beginning to eat healthy. It was a popular article, entitled The Top 5 Regrets People Have on Their Death Bed that led me to write this post. What could be more depressing then death and regrets mixed together? Not much.
Hopefully, Forrest’s mom actually tasted those chocolates, and didn’t just talk about them…
However, the positivity in this article is that wisdom founded in regret therefore, becomes a sign. A sign that we shouldn’t wait until we’re old to have regrets and realizations of “what could’ve been,” thus perpetuating this sad cliche.
I personally want to be the old man who radiates a defiant smile. Content and happy – someone who you look at and go, “he gets it.” “I don’t know what it is that he gets, but he just does,” rather than the one who twists his stories through the tight lens of regret to make his point and share his/her “wisdom.”
While pain and hardship do serve their purpose, another gainful scenario, aside from rapid, unexplainable enlightenment, would be to learn from someone, to understand their situation, and create a second-hand realization. One where you can learn from their experience rather than being unknowingly forced into your own.
This clip from Kevin Smith, actor/director/comedian, nudged me in the right direction towards that mindset.
His story here answers one of my favorite questions. What motivated/motivates you to be successful and pursue your dreams?
“You know my father was dead, and I went to see him on a gurney… and it was so, strange. I went outside to go smoke a cigarette, and Donald (Kevin’s brother) comes out. And I say, How was it, how’d he die?,” because he was there when it happened. Donald says he woke up and immediately threw the sheets off saying, I’M HOT, I’M HOT.. and within seconds he was gone.”
“But then my brother says this thing that probably defined my life. My brother goes, “He literally died screaming.” …Now my father wasn’t a soft man by any stretch of the imagination, and I never heard him get real loud. …The notion of my father dying screaming changed my life, because even a good man in this world – you play the game, you play it straight, you play it by the rules, you do everything you’re supposed to, and you’re gonna die screaming. And at that point, I was like, ”There’s no point in not trying to accomplish every stupid fucking dream I’ve got.”“
He goes on to list everything from mundane activities, to directing a movie, or starting a podcast.
“Chasing whimsy’s,” he calls it.
“Back in the day I’d have a good idea, something I really wanted to follow through on, and all of the sudden, I get scared, you start thinking about what some mo’fuckers is going to say, be like, ”Ah, it’s stupid, why would you do that? Why, why, why…a lot of ‘why people’ in this world. I try to surround myself with the “why-not’s.”“
We’ve all fallen victim to these second guesses in the past. I constantly plot and strategize on how to minimize these moments of hesitation by understanding what it is holding me back. Awareness of these hesitations can be instrumental in overcoming them. Whether it be the business tycoon, or the enlightened garbage man, they all had to find their way to centeredness and a feeling of achievement.
Kevin goes on to describe that it’s not all about the biggest of dreams.
“Sometimes, lay the bar down, and step over it and say Ta-Da! So you feel accomplished.”
…”Because we’re all gonna die screaming …so go after your dreams.”
Before we even think of that business idea, or begin to apply for grad schools, start eating healthy, start working out, etc., we must first start chipping away at the shield that guards that ruthless mindset. Ruthless towards happiness, and goals, and destinations otherwise untouched. The mindset that gives you answers to questions like “Will this make money? Will I be successful? Will I fail?” Whether the answer is yes or no is irrelevant. The important thing is, you can find out.
(I’m sure any of my friends/internet wanderers who are also writers, are shaking their heads given my tenure and experience in the blogging/writing game. I invite you to please e-mail me with constructive criticism. firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate any tips/suggestions).