"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom." H.L. Menken
In my mid-twenties, I had to appear in court after a man in a GMC Jimmy ran a red light and totalled my Acura Integra. While waiting for my case to be called, a little old gray-haired lady was brought out in an orange jumpsuit and cuffs. She had a bandage on her head. A little old gray-haired man, with a matching bandage on his head, was called forward from the audience. Turns out, the little old gray-haired lady was the little old gray-haired man's girlfriend. They both got drunk the night before, and the little old gray-haired lady threw a brick at the little old gray-haired man's head, overbalanced, and fell down, hitting her own head on a table.
This whole experience made me sad. Now I'm a little middle-aged gray-haired lady who's very careful not to get drunk. Does this mean I am wise, or merely sensible?
I had a number of elderly professors at Duke. Some were excited about learning and enthusiastically conveyed that excitement to students. Their wisdom seemed to lie in an insatiable wonder of the world around them. Other elderly professors were simply tired. New thoughts seemed to require a bit more effort than they had energy for, so they relied on what they already knew, a bit like Professor Binns in the Harry Potter books.
If age does not by itself confer wisdom, what does? Please share your thoughts.