The Road to Wisdom

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.” ~Carrie Fisher


Aging isn’t for sissies, as the expression goes. A very old patient recently visited a doctor friend of mine. “Good to see you,” Dr. Tom said. “Yeah, well, better than being viewed,” the old man replied.

And yet, as Gabriel García Márquez observes, “Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.” “Age is not all decay,” George MacDonald adds, “it is the ripening, the swelling of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.”

I recently attended the memorial service of a retired missionary, affectionately known as Chappie, who seemed to grow younger every year. After learning his cancer was terminal, he teased a close friend, “Hah! I get to go to heaven before you do!” This wasn’t bravado. It was the sincere conviction that his aging and death were leading him toward a new life, toward the bursting of the husk.

Marilyn Monroe said, “Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You’d never wholly know you.” (Insightful words, but sadly she never got to prove them true.) Aging is the key to “wholly knowing you.” Mitch Albom notes, “If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, it’s growth.” “Do not deprive me of my age,” the poet May Sarton insists, “I have earned it!”

But wisdom is not the automatic result of aging; bitterness and bile can erode it. Still, it can never be fully attained without aging. So, how does one age one’s way to wisdom? I would argue that one must move closer and closer to the Source.

The purpose of driving is to reach a destination, not merely to use up the gas in the tank. In a sense, this is what Jesus meant when he spoke about “the broad road that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13-14). Most people on the broad road do not choose it, they simply end up on it. Why? Because they choose nothing. They drive until they run out of fuel and end up in that place Carrie Fisher called Nowhere. By contrast, those on “the narrow road that leads to life” choose it. They live toward their destination.

Sylvia Townsend Warner, a brilliant but disenchanted 20th century social experimenter, concluded near the end of her life, “It is best as one grows older…to shed oneself downward like a tree, to be almost wholly earth before one dies.” I beg to differ. I would say it is best to shed oneself upward like a cloud, to be almost wholly spirit before one dies. Let the earth have the spent husk, and set “the fresh life within” free–to be claimed by the One it has been reaching toward its whole life.

As for me? I choose to drive steadfastly toward the Source of wisdom, toward the One who “wholly knows” me, who alone can teach me…

To wholly know myself.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The Road to Wisdom

  1. HAT says:

    Beautiful reflection, Mitch, and beautifully thought-provoking. I definitely feel my spirit – or at least, my inner sense of myself – to be a lot more youthful than most outward observers would give me credit for. However, I don’t think I quite want to follow you down the road to being “almost wholly spirit,” any more than I would want to follow Warner down the “almost wholly earth” path. I resist the idea that we are “really” spiritual beings, for whom “the body” is ultimately a matter of indifference; clouds are bodies, too, as are stars, or light; it’s a question of form. Hence, “the resurrection of the body.” I’m looking forward to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, wow, Mitch! This is as beautiful as it is brilliant! I’m going to save this and reread it frequently! Thank you. You’ve encouraged and inspired me today more than you can possibly imagine! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s a lot of truth in those few words! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. numrhood says:

    missing matthew 7:11 hide the word in your heart, thou shall not sin against thee.


  5. Great post, Mitch. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  6. nanciec13 says:

    beautiful insights Mitch. Thank You!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. says:

    Great post as usual. I used to think the way you do, but the years have taken a toll on me. I can’t move fast enough. My hearing is failing. My energy level is low. I often run out of breath. I try with all my heart to stay involved in life, said I’ll I often wonder why I’m trying so hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cricketmuse says:

    Perfect timing😎

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sandymancan says:

    For it is the journey with a purpose that brings enlightenment in life then you need not fear when it’s your time to die. Very nice Mitch one cannot read this and not have a reflection unless they are on that broad road.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tami Toon says:

    Mitch, this was beautiful. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, so good! I’ve been saying lately, “The older I get, the younger I get–cause there ain’t no old folks in heaven!”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For so long, I thought and planned and drove myself to accomplish things along the way. Now, I am wondering if I will live long enough to see what I have started. Whatever happens, I am ready and anxious to see that door and fly through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. One of the loveliest discoveries of my older years has been to find I am still a “little girl” in God’s eyes. A little girl He ‘lifts’ up so she can see more clearly, hear more clearly and love Him more dearly day by day. I bless the Lord for the gift of years.
    Thank You for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. sniderjerry says:

    Andy Rooney said, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes.”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Cindy Dawson says:

    My favorite line: “Hah! I get to go to heaven before you do!”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WhyToStop says:

    Wowww… amazing post and I loved reading it…” it is best to shed oneself upward like a cloud, to be almost wholly spirit before one dies” this phrase is just so good… 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Crissy says:


    Liked by 1 person

  18. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for such an amazing post!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. landl30 says:

    Thank you much… a nice start to my day today

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I was called an “Old Dude” when I was 25. By age 35 I began to think of myself as getting old. At 45 I began to understand that I was not as mature as I thought. At 50 I began to understand how young I really am.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. If it weren’t for Marilyn Monroe, we probably would have a jaded understanding of innocence.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. carhicks says:

    David Bowie said, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” I think I am getting there, but still have a ways to go. I am waiting for God to finish with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. My Way Home Life says:

    Yes! Where I once worried about aging, now I embrace the wisdom and inner strength that grows as the “outer husk” fades a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. tamaraetienne says:

    That was really nice Mitch. Very peaceful. And true!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. smzang says:

    “The purpose of driving is to reach a destination, not merely to use up the gas in the tank. ”


    Liked by 1 person

  26. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Great piece, always timely. I pray the Lord uses us in “old “age like Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. May the best be yet to come.

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  27. Excellent… subject… treatment of the subject… and writing. You have skills, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. loved this, thanks Mitch

    Liked by 1 person

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