There’s a common German folk saying that “We are too soon old and too late smart.”. This is often in reference that by midlife, we come to a realization that we know very little about the world and that we aren’t actively seeking new knowledge. Thus by the time we acquire the wisdom and insight we do seek as we age, we may not have the time or energy to put it into practice.
For majority of my life, I was a late bloomer. In my teens I had always thought I’d be the last kid to go through puberty and surely enough I was. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I could actually grow a full mustache and beard although majority of my friends could in their teens and 20s.
While this described the physical characteristics, I also felt a bit of a laggard with regards to my brain’s development. Don’t get me wrong, I tended to be a smart kid but I lacked fundamental underlying theory of why things are the way they are. But boy was I eager to be humbled.
By the time I was 25, I started to understand these things at a fundamental level, but I was already out of college by then. As I slowly approached 30, I would reinforce my knowledge with just about any book that had me following my curiosity.
I had survived the higher education industry through that of pure ignorance and a bit of hard work. I’d learn how to learn, but always had problems with what would stick. I’d learn a little through my experiences in the world and what responses might be stimulated from them.
My brain often would operate counterproductively by believing there’s more than the simplicity provided to it. When I’d be deep in solving a problem, I’d often overthink a solution. If the world’s problems are rather easy to solve through simple means, then my bullshit detector would go off and regularly confuse me. There had to be more to it.
It wouldn’t be until I came across a wonderful Einstein quote regarding this.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
I’d start to discover the beauty in simplicity. Those who displayed simplicity tended to have me going in the right direction. The professors who condensed complex topics into simple ideas. My peers who would break down challenging problems into simple steps. My parents who would choose to live a simplistic life.
As I’d get older, I’d start to appreciate the simple. The beautiful sunset or sunrise that never disappoints, yet it comes up and goes down each day. The sound of birds chirping in Spring time. Your child’s laughter or smile over something silly. All of these simple things make life worth living.
Nowadays, I try to live a simple life. I work each day to get a little wiser and try to make my life ass simple as possible, but not any simpler. And so far, it’s been making me happy.