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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Hernandez

Wisdom in Hindsight

In my experience, Wisdom is always acknowledged in hindsight. Because we experience life in real time, the only way we can analyze events/instances/choices is when we take time to look back on what we’ve already experienced through the lense of a veteran (i.e. our own selves in the future). This is a concept that I understood logically as a child - older people are wise because they’ve already lived and experienced an entire life - but never quite grasped until I sort of experienced it for myself. To better sum it up I like to think of the Bible verse at 1 Corinthians 13:11, which states, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”

Our past selves could not ever imagine the knowledge we would acquire after a lifetime’s worth of experience, because our past selves could not foresee what our future selves would experience. Our past selves are simply missing pertinent information that only our future selves could have access to. That is why I think that, in retrospect, I’ve gained a lot of wisdom that only serves the purpose of my becoming a different person than I used to be, whilst also recognizing where I went wrong previously - but only in the context of what my past self wanted/expected.

This is a lot to take in, i know, it’s convoluted but let me try to explain further:

We tend to think of time as a linear entity because that is how we experience it. And as we all know, humans like to make sense of things by making assumptions about them. We call those assumptions ideologies, hypotheses or laws. Basically we test a theory and the outcome becomes rule and fact afterwards.

So, take Newton’s 3 laws of motion for example. Legend has it that he saw an Apple fall and it sparked questions within him about how that could happen in the first place. He generated his experiments and derived at his first law of motion - that an object either stays at rest or continues to move at a constant speed, unless acted upon. He came up with two other laws, as well as, his idea that gravity exists and is a force of nature. Today, we cannot deny gravity or the laws of motion. They’ve become facts of life for us that we can articulate fully, but at one point in time these laws weren’t fact or put to words yet. They hadn’t been conceptualized at all, yet and still apples had always fallen from trees.

The point is that Newton didn’t create gravity or motion, he merely just noticed it and questioned it, but both forces always existed. As long as humans have been on earth, we’ve experienced gravity even if we had no name for it, and likewise, so have we experienced time. So how could we, the ones that seem the most affected and afflicted by the passing of time, ever believe that we could accurately describe it or fully understand it? We cannot. It’s merely a concept we experience within the context of our lives. Again, within the context of our own ideas and laws that state children are young and naive and lack experience while on the other hand, the elderly are old and savvy and have lived an entire life’s worth of experiences.

Our idea of time assumes that the child of the past becomes the elderly person of the future. But what if the child of the past is, his/herself, a different person altogether? What if he/she is someone else from the elderly person? If you think about it, that child doesn’t have the mind of that older man/woman. That child hasn’t experienced that elderly persons life. And likewise, that older person no longer thinks like that child or does as that child does. Things as minuscule as the people that surround them or the places they frequent have changed and evolved. They are no longer the same, therefore one could argue they are separate persons. You could say that one became the other, but in order to do so, the first had to be left behind; like a snake that sheds its skin, it’s left behind.

So when i take that into consideration, you know, that time is a force that happens outside of our past, present or future selves. That time rolled on before I was born and will keep moving after I die. That younger me was absolutely nothing like present me, and present me is absolutely nothing like my future me will be. That by the time I reach my death bed, I will have been several people and lived several lives. Then the relationship between wisdom and hindsight make absolute sense. Of course we only experience wisdom in hindsight! It’s easier for a person to recognize the twists and turns of life after they’ve already lived multiple lives and analyzed them from the outside.

Anyway, let me know if any of this made any sense to you.

Thank You,

Carmen Hernandez

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