Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Value of Experience

As I have aged, I have accumulated a lot of experience. At 58 I have experienced the segregated south, hippies, peace marches, cocaine parties, the bar scene (several varieties), small companies, big companies, being on a school board, being chased by a bear, raising four kids, true love, several hairy car wrecks, numerous broken bones, black outs, pass outs, several major surgeries, low income, high income, 48 of the 50 states, visits to a dozen countries on four continents, conservative politics, liberal politics, a few weeks in a wheel chair, blizzards in the mountains, rip tides at the coast, parasites, LSD, assault with a deadly weapon, twenty years of teaching Sunday School, snorting meth, ballet recitals, SAT, GRE, BS, MS, opiate addiction, high tech, steel mills, abandoned mine shafts, hurricanes, winos, con artists, encounters with God, communion with saints, attending child births, rocks concerts, drag races, zipping my father into a body bag, body building, engineering, managing, studying. I could keep going, but you get the idea. I have experienced many things.

I would like to think that all of that experience has earned me a special status as a wise man. However, I have long since realized that experience is only valuable when one learns from it. One person gains more wisdom in a trip to the mall than another might in a trip around the world. Do I learn? Do I remember when I need to? Do I act according to what I know to be true?

I will continue to enjoy, endure, and accumulate experiences. Lately I feel little need to seek them out but neither do I want to avoid them. I want to learn from the experiences I have, even if it is via hindsight. I want to remember what I learn, even when the distractions and temptations to forget seem overwhelming. I want to use every second of living to grow closer to God and to love my neighbors as I want to be loved.

I also want to drop the idea that being a geezer gives me much of an edge on anyone else. Perhaps the one thing I can say is that I have certainly been given many, many opportunities to learn and to put that learning to use. That makes me blessed. It doesn't make me better than anyone else.
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