Society often notes that with age comes wisdom. In fact, we spend quite a bit of time educating our youth that they must not discount the benefits of a life long lived and what can be learned. But by the same token, we should not be so quick to dismiss those who are gaining life experience but still have something to teach. I not only learned that by my recent stint in school but through one of my co-workers. Does age really make you sage or should we open our eyes to see past the number ?
It took me the year in school to get over myself. To get over that I, being so much older and wiser, would know better than those in the younger part of the class. In some instances, my over-inflated sense of self was justified. I did in fact know better. However, much to my chagrin, there were many times where the youth of the group were the sage and I the student. To be honest, I loved that. I love learning no matter what the form. What this also taught me was that I needed to remember not to judge by the number.
The flip side of this is that I have encountered people who should be sage material and well, just aren’t. They’ve not taken the time to learn anything new and rest on their experience as being the most important thing. They believe that just because they’ve done the job long enough, they’ve learned enough and therefore know more than enough. What this smacks of is complacency. Just because you’ve done a job for a long time doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn more. I can’t imagine a time where I won’t be learning and would hate to be in a position where this wasn’t possible.
What I found amusing in the scenario that prompted this post, was that the person judging by the number wasn’t that much older than the person being judged. The difference ? The younger knew more than the older and that placed them in a position of power. Not a twirl your moustache, tie you to the train tracks kind of power but they were the gatekeeper to the knowledge the older person needed. This, I think, is where the divide begins. Where the judgement of the number is predicated on fear. Where the person on the needing to know end of the knowledge might feel threatened by the one who already knows. Add the number issue and you’ve got yourself a problem. Why do they already know what I need to know and how come I don’t know it ?
I’ll give you a minute to wrap your tongue around that little twister.
Needless to say, the sage in the equation had experienced this before. They were secure in their knowledge to understand the other person’s fear. They were old enough to let their knowledge speak for itself. And they had learned to let the “aren’t you a bit young?” comments roll off their wise shoulders as they expertly navigated the complicated knowledge being discussed. At the end of the conversation, they still held the position of sage but I think the other person learned something as well. Don’t judge a sage by their number.