I’ve been learning to draw. And I’m really bad at it. I don’t think I have zero talent. I could’ve been good, if I’d started when I was 12. But instead I absorbed the idea that I wasn’t an artistic person, so I never thought about that stuff ever.
Whereas at exactly the same time, some people in my life said I was good with words (and admittedly I spent a lot more time reading books than looking at pictures), so instead I spent a lot of my youth on random writing projects (a lot of source material for a lot of unplayed D&D campaigns), and shortly after my eighteenth birthday I started seriously trying to write fiction.
Fifteen years later, I’m still learning things. Some of those things, I probably could’ve learned sooner, but some of these lessons are things I can’t articulate even now. It took me fifteen years to get to where I am today. Now if I started today, it probably would take me less time, but still, it takes a while!
I’m routinely grateful to my past self for setting down this unknown road, and I just-as-routinely think about what I’m doing today that my future self will be grateful for. Lately I feel like I’ve been resting on the solid groundwork that I laid at ages 24 through 29, and I’ve been thinking, well, what do I need to do now? What seeds should I plant now that will only flower when I’m 40 or 45 or 50?
As a sidenote, I think my first introduction to truly eternal thinking came when I met my wife. I had a strong suspicion, even very early in our relationship, that she was the one for me, so every time I met one of her friends or family members, I thought, “How I act now will have reverberations that echo through our entire lives.” And indeed that has proven to be the case.
Of course it’s impossible to be nice and gentle all the time, and I’ve sometimes felt myself slipping a little, but the solid foundation laid in the first year of our relationship has really helped me out.
That’s what wisdom is, I guess.