by Bill Powers
For millennia humans have recognized the existence and value of the notion of wisdom. A dictionary definition of wisdom states: it is “the ability to use your knowledge and experience.” It is often acquired as one ages. Leonardo Da Vinci proclaimed: “Wisdom is the daughter of experience.” Albert Einstein said: “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Ancient philosophers such as Laozi addressed the importance of wisdom when asserting: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” The Greek philosopher Sophocles professed: “Wisdom outweighs any wealth.”
As a child and growing up in Hartford, the older kids in my neighborhood attended Hartford Public High School and I was always intrigued by their mascot, the owl. I was told that the owl represented wisdom. So, the connection in my mind for wisdom and schooling was established early on. Indeed, the association of wisdom and owls was reinforced by the advertising for Wise potato chips, where the owl was their mascot.
A popular concept in our society is that age and experience bring wisdom. I wondered: Why not tap into the wealth of experiential wisdom from some of my older neighbors, to gain further insight into this. So, on a random basis I asked people the following: “What is one important thing that you wish someone had told you when you were young?”Here is what they replied when they were at the Windham Senior and Community Centers, the Veteran Center in Willimantic, or Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Windham Center.
Jean age 85 – At a certain point as you age increases, your physical strength begins to decline. The older you get the more quickly that happens. Stay active and exercise frequently.
Marilyn age 71 – How devasting smoking tobacco, excessive use of alcohol, and abuse of drugs can be and can ruin lives.
Robin age 68 – Two things – 1) The importance of participating in sports can have significant positive effects on the physical and mental health and well-being. Girls need to appreciate the importance of Title IX and make use of the opportunities it has provided for female athletes. 2) What is important in life is ½ knowing what want and ½ is asking for it.
Jevena age 63 – Get to know what makes you happy and strive to keep that happiness in your life.
Bill age 77 – Don’t wait too long to thank people who helped you when you we young, because when I tried in my fifties, I found that half of them were already dead and I had missed that opportunity.
Ethel age 81 – Listen to and respect your kids’ needs and plans for the future.
Rosemary age 80 – Begin early on to save for your future, even if at first it is only a dollar a week.
Frank age 77 – Plan on having many careers during your lifetime.
Paula age 67 – Embrace each day with joy, no matter what difficulties you may be experiencing.
John age 70 – Don’t count on the government to help vets when they return home.
Margarita age 74 – (with the help of an interpreter) I had many life lessons from my family as I grew up. I would tell children today to respect their family and value religion.
Joellen age 75 – Bloom wherever you are planted.
Kerry age 61 – Always do the job right and with no short cuts.
Ruth age 67 – Become self-sufficient and try to get along with everyone.
Caroline age 73 – Love yourself and care for yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup if you want to care for others.
William age 81 – (with the help of an interpreter) I learned many life values growing up from my family. What I would say to young parents is that discipline is very important for raising children. It helps them learn right from wrong.
Karen age 65 – Stay healthy – just keep moving and take time for yourself.
Judy age 64 – To breathe before I talked.
Bernie age 76 – Turn over the stone to see what is under it.
Al age 75 – That girls have different emotional/sexual awakening times.
Mitch age 56 – I wish someone had educated me on how to invest in stocks that generate passive income when I was 18.
Candice age 78 – I am in control of my own destiny and other people are not.
June age 89 – Love everyone no matter who they are.
Patricia age 74 – Everybody deserves to be loved.
Ann age 60 – Be kind to yourself.
Rosario age 74 – Don’t get old in mind and spirit.
Elizabeth age 75 – Facts of life.
Dave age 79 – Life is more enjoyable than you may think. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Michael age 62 – Start saving when you are young.
Steve age 65 – Take as much time as you can with your family – especially your children.
Priscilla age 80 – You are what you eat.
Wayne age 90 – Keep the faith.
Don age 77 – Aim high in life!
Gerhard age 84 – Emphasize the role of human language.
Lynne age 65 – Learn how to type.
Murphy age 81 – When you meet somebody new, ask them more questions than they ask you.
Rob age 80 – Learn to calmly and respectfully say no! To help you stay on your very own path.
Patty age 83 – Be sure to nurture yourself by keeping people in your life who have a positive attitude.
Arlene age 78 – People are the most important things – more than things or projects.
Jake age 70 – To maintain a balance between a focus on your future but also on your future life