Experience reminds me of glasses, both help you see life better.
The problem with experience, though, is it changes your perspective, good and bad. You see things differently.
When we see something we create an imprint. This is the way things are.
Sight is perhaps the most deceiving of the senses. As an amateur photographer I know this. I can tell just by the way the same place will look different everyday depending on the weather and placement of the sun.
Experience can also deceive us. Sometimes we need a new prescription.
Yes, you can navigate life better, avoid the mistakes of youth, and generally do better. In this sense, experience helps you. You become better for it (though perhaps less mirthful).
But it brings negative things, too.
How Experience Impacts Us Negatively
First is the loss innocence. Naivety falls to the side.
You see patterns, behaviors emerge (yours and theirs), and you avoid them. Making the same mistakes of the past — while so damn attractive — just can’t happen again. Once bitten, twice shy.
That same knowledge causes you to “know better.” You really don’t, at least not all the time, but you think you do. There lies the second danger, the arrogance of experience.
You see this all the time online by people who declare “the right way,” and then criticize and look down on others for doing it “the wrong way.”
Yes, I do own a glass house in this sense. I also know that I’ve been wrong in this sense several times, and in others I used my mighty experience to lord over people.
Experience does not equate to wisdom. Wisdom is the demonstrative application of experience, not the telling of it. Further, wisdom lets you see that different actions may also produce a good result. The Internet is full of folks who will tell you
right way, but few will show you with their own actions, or respect other paths.
I look back at this judgmental pontificating behavior and think, “what an asshole.” I seek to offer my opinion of others’ actions now only when asked.
The other problem is that your eyes get worse, and the glasses don’t work. Experience tricks you into thinking you do know better, that you don’t have to change your ways for a situation. You become unteachable.
Here, wisdom comes into play again. If you know that things always change, you remain open to new ways, different methods, and evolve. You realize in the end that you know only a little. You can adapt.
What do you think of experience?