I was once at a workshop at a California hippie community.

About 20 people seated in a circle. I had just done some "sharing" when a younger guy, across the room, said to me that he respected wisdom, not age. He said that wisdom can happen at any age. I wasn't sure what this meant, exactly, so I probed.

Does that mean you think you understand everything that I do? I was about twice his age, at the time. He said yes, absolutely. I asked if he had learned anything since he was 14. He said of course. I didn't know anything then. I asked why do you think learning stops at your age?

He was about 20, I was about 40. I had been through my 20s and 30s, two decades where huge change happens to almost everyone. You'd have to be a hermit, never have been in a relationship, had a job, had a family member get sick or die, or any of the myriad events that stretch our humanity and make us deeper more significant people. Maybe someone in prison, or someone who was doing heroin every day, maybe they might make it through these years without learning.

Update: I forgot, I started and sold a company in my 20s and 30s.

Now that I'm getting close to 60, with another 20 years under my belt, I have to say the process most definitely continues. I actually have fewer struggles today than I did 20 years ago, even though looking at my circumstances you might think the opposite is true.

I know who I am at this age. Every day I wake up doing something I want to do, not worrying so much about the things I might be missing, or what other people think of me. I've had to help a parent die, came very close to dying myself. I've moved four times since I was 40. I thought I might be settling then, but life isn't like that.

People who are twenty are blessed with strength, stamina, health, booming sexuality. At the same workshop one young man complained that he got erections at awkward times. If only I had such problems! I said to him. Someday you'll think it's funny, you could see he got it, and was actually kind of proud of his prowess (of course, we all are).

I think the moral of the story is there are blessings and challenges at all ages, but there are differences. As we get older, we may think we remember what it was like to be younger, but I think we idealize it more than we realize, and overlook the doubts that you have when you're younger, the confusion. And when we're young, I think we're scared of aging, so we tend to push it away as much as possible, hoping it won't afflict us. I think we'd all do better if we just accept each other as we are, as individuals, and let each of us make the contributions we want to make, without so much fuss.

Last built: Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:23 AM

By Dave Winer, Monday, June 30, 2014 at 10:15 AM. Don't slam the door on the way out.