Always, sometimes, never

Tools

By Travis Mayfield

Looking at my friend Christopher's blazer recently I blurted out, "Why do you have the top two buttons buttoned? That's not right."

To which the entire table of people sitting with us stopped speaking and stared at me.

"I thought that was right with a 3 button jacket?” said Christopher.

"No, no...never the top. If you button two it’s the bottom two," I replied.

Ok, let me stop this conversation before it gets worse (and it does get worse for me) and tell you straight out, I was wrong. The rule of fashion here is simple, middle button always, top button sometimes, bottom button never.

Eventually I was corrected and things moved on, but dwelling on my wrongness this morning (as I often do) I kept coming back to the same conclusion, "I thought age was supposed to bring wisdom, for me it seems to bring stupidity."

Growing up I did well in school, received nearly perfect grades, earned high college test scores and on and on. I wouldn't say I was a genius, but I was pretty smart. I was well read, well spoken, and often could talk on any subject with some intelligence. As life has gone along it seems I am less and less able to accomplish such conversations and observations without terrible blunders.

For example, arguing (at length I might add) that it was the 520 bridge that sank in the early 90s and not the I-90. Saying over and over again, "I was here and I remember."

Well actually, no...it was the I-90 bridge that sank.

I was wrong.

Or claiming some deeper understanding of why the moon rises so low in the sky at times, when in fact I have no idea and even after the scientific reasons were explained to me in the simplest of terms I still have no idea of the why.

I was wrong.

Even simple math it seems has escaped me. Telling my gym partner I'd pick him up at 10:15, we'd work out starting at 10:30 and leave by 10:45. When he questioned the timing.. I replied, "Well...we normally work out for 45 minutes...so this is right!" uhh...no, no it isn't...that's a 15 minute workout not 45.

I was wrong.

I can't figure out the tip at a restaurant without my iPhone calculator.

I forget the simplest things (I even had to write down the planned subject and title of this post after coming in from my walk to ensure when I sat down at the computer I would remember it.)

What has happened to me?

I am still reading as voraciously as I always have. While I am not in school, I am a news guy which is a lot like school...learning a new subject (or two) every day. I keep intelligent company. And haven’t I been told my entire life, "With age comes wisdom" and "respect your elders, they know what they are talking about."

I don't have an answer, but I am finding its always better to stop blurting things out with absolute assurance. Instead it’s sometimes better to listen, then to question. Perhaps I will never be as smart as I once thought I was.

Then again, maybe those are the realizations that when perfected make someone wise.

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