Tuesday, June 28, 2011

When Wisdom Clouds Enthusiasm

Focus On... 

Don't waste time allowing your knowledge of life to keep you from living life to the fullest.
 The Light Of Your Dreams

I was listening to this great song by Crosby, Stills and Nash the other day, Wasted on the Way.  It's about the time we waste not following our heart's desires and in the end encourages us to follow them no matter what.  There are many reasons why we refuse to follow our heart's desires, including the common "go to" reason: fear.  But I want to challenge this idea by taking it one step further.  I believe, as we get older, more than anything, it is wisdom which clouds our enthusiasm for life.  Let me explain...

As we get older, when we take on a new endeavor, we often find ourselves asking, "Where's my zest for life? Where's the enthusiasm of my youth that used to carry me?"  Well, I have some good news. It's still there, it's just different now, thanks to the gift of wisdom. Wisdom helps us make better decisions because of all we have learned, but, if we allow it, wisdom can also subdue our enthusiasm for life for the exact same reason.

It's really pretty simple if you think about it.  Knowing what can happen because we've "been there and done that" can be a hindrance as well as making us feel secure.   We take all of our knowledge, the positive and the negative, into our new endeavor.  Knowing things don't always work out the way we planned leads to being cautious with everything from choices to emotions.   Sure, everything could go great, but it could also go equally as wrong and are we ready for that ride again?    Why get excited when experience tells us things could go wrong?

It will never be like it was when we first felt enthusiasm for life. We aren't 20 years old anymore.  The blind enthusiasm which accompanies youth is no longer available because the blindfold has been removed.  This is why young men make such good soldiers. They have no sense of caution; no concept of the true reality of harm. Think about how differently we drive at age 35 compared to how we drove at age 21.  But there is a difference between what happens behind the wheel and how we feel our emotions.

Don't let wisdom keep you from enjoying what you've achieved or what you may choose to do next.  This makes me think of a lyric from Wasted on the Way:

I am older now, 
I have more than what I wanted 
but I wish that I had started long before I did. 

This thought, to me, is a perfect example of letting wisdom cloud enthusiasm.  It is a wonderful thing to achieve all which you have wanted.  It is also normal for the wiser of us to caution those younger to "not let time pass you by."  So, what stands out in these lyrics is the regret, not the joy of being fulfilled.  Now for the good news.

As I've said, the enthusiasm is still there.  It's different now because we are different now.  For example, how could we feel the same type of enthusiasm starting a new job now, that we felt when we started working at our first job? It's impossible, because we now know what working and working with others entails.  We now have the wisdom to avoid and deal with conflict in the work place, but in return we know there may be conflict in the workplace.  We now have the wisdom to know when work is unfulfilling, but in return we know work can be unrewarding, sometimes leading to burnout.  We now have the wisdom to see the writing on the wall when our department is downsized, but in return we know, no matter what kind of effort we put in, we are expendable.  

I could keep going, but I'm sure you get the point.  The reality is you may have to dig for the enthusiasm.  It's there, it's just changed.  It's OK to be cautious, but don't let the fact that there are things to be cautious about distract you from the good which has manifested in your life.  Consciously set these concerns aside and start with being grateful for whatever fortune has come your way.  Don't be like my friend who has two amazing children, a successful business,  a gorgeous home she and her husband built,  lots of land and a stable full of horses.  When I commented as to how blessed she was, my friend replied "Yup.  It could all be gone tomorrow."  Sure it could, but it is here now, so why not enjoy it and revel in the enthusiasm which accompanies a job well done.  

Wisdom is a vital asset in our decision making arsenal.  I'm not suggesting that it be ignored.  I'm suggesting that it be acknowledged, then set aside in order to allow enthusiasm to shine.  Take time to meditate and relax.  Listen to some Crosby, Stills and Nash to lift your spirits.   Don't let your dreams die simply because you don't feel the same enthusiasm for them as you used to. By quieting your mind, you'll find your new sense of enthusiasm and be able to move forward, using your wisdom to help you make better choices in the moment.


Words of wisdom by Graham Nash, performed by Crosby, Stills and Nash
~ MTV Unplugged, 1990


 Wasted On The Way ~ words & music by Graham Nash

Look around me
I can see my life before me
Running rings around the way
It used to be

I am older now
I have more than what I wanted
But I wish that I had started
Long before I did

Chorus
And there's so much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way

So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Oh when you were young
Did you question all the answers
Did you envy all the dancers
Who had all the nerve

Look round you NOW
You must go for what you wanted
Look at all my friends who did and got what they deserved

Chorus
So much time to make up
Everywhere you turn
Time we have wasted on the way

So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

So much love to make up
Everywhere you turn
Love we have wasted on the way

So much water moving
Underneath the bridge
Let the water come and carry us away

Let the water come and carry us away

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