Age is just a number. It doesn’t matter how old you get, you can still be not living well. You can still be making the same mistakes over again, wasting away watching television and stuck in the mental frame you were when you stopped progressing.
Sure, it’s possible to learn from mistakes as you age and to grow more independent, but it doesn’t have the merit that folks tend to put into it. What does matter? Wisdom.
My argument in sum is agedness does not necessitate wiseness, unless the aged have sought wisdom.
Wisdom, put simply, is the understanding of what it takes to live a good life. The pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of a life built upon principles of rightful conduct – that is, rightful thinking and rightful action.
To be wise one must do certain things. The foremost thing a wise person must do is learn and practice the virtues. By aligning yourself to the ways of virtue, you can become gradually like a tuning fork, resonating internally through a lens of insight. It allows you to consider the actions of others and the ways of nature from a perspective that lends itself to the apprehension of laws.
Wiseness also requires us to necessarily humble our egos. Each of us wants to believe that our past behavior and thinking has been right. We are stubborn in our own development. We work against what’s in our best interest by not allowing ourselves to grow.
There’s a caveat: while it is imperative to listen to the rebuke of others, be wary of poor advice. Many people will project their weaknesses onto you. You have to walk a line between a grounding in your principles and criticism. To better achieve this, it is helpful to seek a multitude of perspectives.
If this seems paradoxical or contradictory, there’s a reason. There’s no proven path to wisdom beyond working with the conceptions of virtue. The virtues are like a mountain, each views them clearly but from different perspectives and the path up the mountain will be different for each. Even when you reach the summit, the path will have changed your lens so you see it differently than someone else who reaches the summit. That doesn’t matter though because I don’t think anyone has ever reached the summit of Mount Virtue, one would probably then become a god among people.