When does living “start?”

“Wait until you reach my age!”
I guess I’ll need to wait then? Because there’s no other way in which you’re going to divulge the secrets of the universe you’ve amassed by living a longer time than me?

“Aging” does imply the potential for constructing a holistic view of the universe by mere virtue of having access to more information and the ability to see trends.
But what if you read the same book for 30 years?
Is “time” the only prerequisite for arriving at the temple that houses the holy grail called “wisdom?”

A discussion about the “validity” of teenage love sparked these thoughts about youngsters “not always knowing anything” about life.
Does the fire burn any less if it only consumes you partially?
Can we claim to understand the fire within any emotions that aren’t our own?
We’re quick to dismiss the vapid emotions and experiences of youth, but yet we adhere to religious scriptures that extol the virtues of seeing life through the eyes of a child.
What if the “wisdom” we so easily ascribe to our “well-lived” demeanor happens to be nothing more than filters that obscure the way life was meant to be experienced.
Our cynicism, complacency, hurt, jaded righteousness and tired souls may not be the fruits of wisdom, but merely the results of fruitless repetition.

So when does “living” start?
Is it the first breath we take?
Is living only legitimate once we’ve reached that arbitrary yet mythical and mystical milestone set by someone else— “Wait until you’ve reached my age!”

The opening notes of a song may not be representative of the epic middle part of the same song.
And the closing credits may not be indicative of what a movie was about.
Any age carries the potential for acquiring wisdom, even if only within a context that others could never understand.
I believe each perceived “stage” of a life has meaning.

I’ve read thin books that contained vivid imagery.
Even though the plot was often equally wafer-thin, the excruciating and beautifully-conveyed honesty made up for lack of bulk.

I recently reached the “age” someone “warned” me about 20 years ago.
And I’m still waiting for a revelation that will crack open the sky with incandescent pearls of wisdom.
But truth be told, I don’t give much thought to what I was supposed to be “waiting” for.
Life is happening right now, this very minute, and so is the truth and wisdom we might choose to notice or ignore.

“Enlightenment” is a flashlight strapped to your head— So what do you “see?”

Enlightenment to me is nothing more than strapping a big light to your forehead and finding your way down an ominously foreboding and altogether nasty little alley.
The stronger your flashlight, the more you see!
It’s going to show you a path and help you to avoid crates, litter, broken bottles, and vomit.
You’ll also be able to see a dead cat and perhaps the odd homeless person near the fire escape.

Naturally, I can’t imagine knowing what “enlightenment” means for each individual.
It remains a personal quest, and personal experience.
I believe “enlightenment” requires a flow of energy, stemming from learning, observation, service, empathy, and understanding— and all of that good stuff flowing towards practicality.
Very often we complicate and obfuscate so many things for ourselves and push it into esoteric realms.
But it’s simple.
You already know your purpose in life— It’s to be alive.
Finding something useful to do gives your life meaning.

Everything else might be extremely interesting and entertaining.
All you read will certainly enrich your perceptions about life, should you choose to learn from it.
If this seems like a reductionist approach to complex issues so be it.
I’ll choose that before I adhere to an additive method of needlessly layering complexity onto everything.

Strap on that light, keep your hands free, you’re going to search for a dingy alley!
Enlightenment won’t be found on the internet, or in shiny shrines dedicated to the gods of retail.
Yes, perhaps you won’t even find enlightenment within the proverbial alley.
Chances are you might find something better, a “changed perspective” inside the absurdly beautiful mess called “life.”
And within that mess, you can choose to help the forlorn guy near the fire escape, because now you’ve “seen” him!