Age Does Not Equal Wisdom
I ran into one of my old professors from undergrad in Starbucks the other day. He’s one of those folks that has seen and done a lot in his life. He is an eccentric fellow with a lot of wisdom beneath a sarcastic, bitter shell. We sat down and talked about a lot of stuff, ranging from his upcoming philosophy presentations in Europe to what I am going to do with my life.
Out of the blue, he asked me if I was married. I snorted and said that of course I wasn’t.
Prof: I have a guess… a guess that I’m 99% sure to be correct, but yeah. You’re never going to get married. You know why, right?
Prof: Because you’re a freak.
Prof: I mean that in the most loving, non-abrasive way.
Me: Right. *snorts*
Prof: No, listen. There are very few happily married couples that I know of. And I know a LOT of married people. Out of them all, I know maybe… 4 that are happy. And all of them are happy because they live in a confined bubble of some sort.
Me: Yeah, living in bubbles is bad and they can burst *rolling eyes*
Prof: It’s not BAD, per se… it’s just… simple. You aren’t like that. You’ll never be like that. Very few people will measure up to your experiences, and you’re just starting. You’re a black woman who lived in China, and got a Master’s in Chinese Philosophy. You’re not Christian, you have strange hair, and keep even stranger company. The way you see the world isn’t “normal” and it’s never going to be. You live in a world where the majority of people either won’t care about the things you do or don’t have the capacity to grasp them. You refuse to stop learning and you refuse to stop growing.
Me: And this makes me ineligible for marriage by default?
Prof: My point is, people change. Especially people like you. From what I’ve seen, the people that don’t change have long, happy, sustained marriages or partnerships with other people who also don’t change. You’ll meet someone you really dig or whatever, have a little thing, but paths split all the time. You’re a nomad.
After we said goodbye, I couldn’t get his words out of my head. I can’t completely reject his reasoning. He’s older and wiser than I am. I’m young and stupid and think I know more than I actually do. Every time I think I’ve found myself, I come across something else that expands my horizons even more. Living a simpler life, after everything I’ve experienced and wish to continue to experience, would bore me to tears. “Settling down” really does mean… well, settling down. So, by this definition, my professor is right. Marriage isn’t for me.
But yet, I refuse to concede. Being open to new things shouldn’t be anathema to having a healthy, sustained relationship. Am I really doomed to be forever alone because I dare to look outside the box? What if I find someone who also likes to look outside the box and we look out from the same box happily ever after?
Maybe there’s some truth to what my professor is saying, but “some” is not “the whole” truth. The fact that I welcome change could result in my waking up one day and deciding that it’s time for me to settle down; a natural progression in the path of life. I won’t listen to anyone (professor or not) who tries to tell me what I will or will not do in the future based on who I am today.
That’s when I realized how much I’ve already changed. If my professor would have said the same things to me a mere two years ago, I would have swallowed his words hook, line, and sinker. Two years ago, I believed that college professors (the good ones) were God-like: all-knowing. Two years ago I also believed that age equals wisdom. But I’ve seen too many adults mess up their lives, and too many people who were supposed to be wise, screw up royally. So, nope. I’m not listening to him. Besides, I have a sneaking suspicion that my professor’s philosophy about marriage has much more to do with his own life than with mine.
So, I’ll leave my professor with his view of life and love and I’ll continue to be a freak who is now convinced that age does not necessarily mean wisdom except, of course, if we’re talking about me.