Toward the end of Thomas Hardy’s wild and wonderful story, The Mayor of Casterbridge, the title character reflects on what he’s come to think of as a trick the gods play on us: When we’re old enough to have the wisdom to do great things, we no longer have the energy it takes to do them. And thus the big things we need most rarely get accomplished by us.
We can call this phenomenon the principle of “Wisdom-Energy Age Reversal,” or WEAR.
In our youth, we’re full of energy, or what Hardy refers to as “zest,” but we have very little worldly wisdom to guide our abundant capacity to act. Then, by the time that many decades of experience may have schooled us well in the ways of wisdom, we lack our early measure of energy to achieve the things we have come to see would be great. This is why so many of the big things that do get accomplished in the world seem to lack an appropriate measure of wisdom, and why the old and wise among us are much more apt just to critique and complain than to actually rectify the many wrongs around us. It's a principle that indirectly counsels us to enter into partnerships and collaborations that span the spectrum of age.
I love Hardy’s books, largely for his characters and his masterful storytelling. But he’s often thought of as a pessimist, and this principle on wisdom and age can explain at least a portion of that worldview. Given the fact that he wrote a century and a half ago, I’d say that this part of his philosophy at least might be said to WEAR well, on into our day.
For a truly enchanting story that displays the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as food for thought and that shows, among many other things, how secrets and lies never provide a sound path in life, read this delightful book.
To find it, click HERE.