I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday. ~ Abraham Lincoln
An impending birthday has me reflecting, perhaps a bit more than I should. Each year I find it more and more difficult to justify any argument against my classification as an individual of middle age. Thankfully, I have had time to get used to this idea. I work with junior high students, and they believe anyone beyond the age of twenty-six is ancient.
Supposedly, with each passing year, we are another year wiser. It is a nice sentiment, but offers false hope for the apathetic. Beyond basic reflex responses, gaining wisdom is not a passive process–it requires thought, reflection, planning and practice. It is not the passage of time that leads to learning, but how we choose to utilize this resource.
For me, birthdays no longer hold any mystique, in fact, they are beginning to be accompanied by a sense of dread–time lost. But maybe this is the wrong perspective. Maybe becoming “old” has little to do with age, but everything to do with our level of zeal for gaining wisdom–a timeless pursuit. In the quote that began this post, you will note that Lincoln uses a single day as a measure of time…not a year. Our pursuit of wisdom should be focused on daily endeavors. What am I doing today that will make me a better person, one who is more capable of helping others? Taking this attitude (and accompanying actions) allows one to see the passage of time as a series of opportunities gained.
I’m still not thrilled about being a year older, but I am going to do everything I can to ensure that at the end of the day, I am a little wiser. It shouldn’t be too hard…I have a lot to learn.