Good books, age, and wisdom

On our shelf we have some good and helpful books. There you can read titles such as Know your why – and you immediately wish to know your `Why not´ in certain situations. Another book is called Tired of trying to measure up, in which, of course, the author points the reader to the curse of comparing oneself to someone or even everyone else. The gift of imperfections helps me to embrace myself, no matter what. And in Play I get encouraged to goof around more – in spite of being already somewhat old and settled. Because although to play means to do something without an obvious purpose, the benefits of playing seem to be overwhelming, especially for adults: when you play you learn to socialize successfully, meaning, you `learn emotional intelligence – the ability to perceive other`s emotional state, and to adopt an appropriate response´ (Stuart Brown in `Play´).

Such books are full of wisdom and advice. They deliver inspiring insights and helpful approaches, they ask good questions – and provide some answers. If I had read them I should be so smart!

But, first: I haven´t read them all. Every year, just before our summer break, I walk along our book shelf and pick the books I would like to and perhaps should read – finally. Being realistic I only take out one or two of them … 

Second: it´s hard to apply what you read, while your life is going on and getting complicated in different ways than the books `suggest´. Unfortunately it´s almost impossible to `store´ some of the advice for later occasions. So I often read, nod and feel smart – but in reality remain as ignorant as before.

Last and perhaps most important: I often can´t remember what I read – the more so the older I get. 

Fortunately I am not completely without any clue in the challenges of everyday life – and as the years go by I dare to just try more. Some wisdom does its work in me without my conscious effort to apply the knowledge I gained from books.

Therefore: So far, aging seems to be as good a counsellor as a good book – although not automatically. How smart and wise a person becomes and acts has a lot to do with character. Being authentic, open to criticism, curious, mentally flexible, humble, and so on, certainly results in more wisdom than any book or age could provide on their own.