Impossible as it seems, I have been out of high school for more than fifty years. My wife is now approaching the same “impossibility.” For those of you less ancient, you have nevertheless probably had similar “looking back” experiences and pondered the reality that in those bygone years, you—in many ways—had “no clue,” as we say today. So what would you say to your younger self if you could? What advice of wisdom has time given to you over the ensuing years?
Asking these kind of questions raises some critically important questions. It also takes a strong measure of courage if you are seriously asking such profound questions. Indeed, what has life really taught you as you have passed through it? Are you a learner or just an observer? Are you living to learn or just going through life accumulating experiences without sorting through them deeply enough to come to conclusions about truth and course changes you might have made? Yes, I know we can’t change the past, but if you could go back with wisdom, would you?
For those of us who believe in cumulative knowledge, these kinds of questions are very real and not just philosophical mind games. What we are talking about here is how to make informed decisions and apply true knowledge acquired by real life choices which we make available to both ourselves and others we genuinely care about. Life with depth and value is an art form driven by a desire to produce depth and value for others. In biblical terms, it is the vertical love of God and from God, horizontally applied to others through us which is only possible if we are living to learn and, therefore, learning how to live.
The pain of seeing others grow old or “beat up by life” is sometimes overwhelming to me. To live without learning—and by “learning” I mean permanently changing values, perspectives, and behavior—is a tragedy to me. Painful as that may be, I suspect vast numbers of people live that way, never having been taught the alternative path I am attempting to describe. I believe true Christianity is exactly this path.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but that being said, what would you say to your younger self if you could? I don’t know about you, but these questions stir me on very deep levels. I cannot change the past, but if I don’t truly learn from it my future is unnecessarily damaged and my influence on others equally diminished. And that is… THE BOTTOM LINE.