Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Márquez wrote in Love In the Time of Cholera: “…wisdom comes to us when it can no longer do any good.” I don’t think that he meant that wisdom was not useful, it’s just that the wisdom you grasp comes too late in your own life to do you much good so you have to consider what you can do to pass it along.
Three days ago my son Luke and his wife Claire gave birth to my first grandson: Jacob Timothy. Seven pounds 9 ounces, twenty inches long—with all his fingers and toes. And as beautiful a sight as I have ever beheld. So I thought if I had to write down five things on a piece of paper and slip him a note in his diaper, what would I want to tell him; i.e. what wisdom have I learned that will do me no good but might help him?
1. Love is never wrong. But it can be clumsy, inconvenient, and misconstrued. One of the tenets of love is that you don’t get to tell the person(s) who love you how you want them to love you. You either accept or reject their love but it is not your expectations of love that have to be met.
2. Happiness becomes easier to find. As you get older, joy and satisfaction because easier to grasp because you do not keep looking for them in the future simply because there’s less and less future left and more present in which to explore. List the three things that make you happiest. Not one of them costs money.
3. Happiness has almost nothing to do with what you have. It has everything to do with whom you love. We spend so much time acquiring things. They all end up in a big yard sale being handed off to strangers who never knew you.
4. Never trade possessions for experience. If you have a choice between a new car or a new vacation, take the vacation. Cars come and go. But seeing the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal? Well, that’s the reason they make credit cards, isn’t it?
5. The older you get, the more you think about dying. You should have been thinking about it a lot more while you were growing up. Better late than never but you are always too late when it comes to understanding mortality. The world will go on after you die. It will keep spinning. You will fade from people’s memory. Then you will understand what real death means when somewhere, sometime your name is spoken for the last time and the memory of you slips away into oblivion. Swept into the planet’s past. With the dinosaurs. You start off biology and end up geology. What did you think was going to happen?
Since we started with his words, let’s finish with a last thought from the pen of Gabriel Garcia Márquez: “Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything. The alpha and omega. An end in itself.”
There you go, JT. Let’s try and get you started on the right foot…when you learn how to walk.