I’ve sometimes said that wisdom comes from pain and the wiser a person has become is a measure of how many painful things they have survived. I don’t really think that is true anymore. I think that even people who have endured pain can be lacking in wisdom. Because how else do they keep sticking their hand in the fire and saying “Ow! I got burned! Why does this keep happening?”
I think of some of the stupid, most inconsiderate things that I have done in my life. The pettiness. The shots fired from a safe location. The stupid shit we do when we haven’t healed from the last time we stuck our hand in the fire.
When I turned 21, my GF at the time used some of her student loan money to buy me a kilt. An honest-to-god tailored kilt that had been made in Scotland. It was beautiful. I wore it one time with her at a Valentines dance at my university. Men don’t get a lot of attention for how they dress–until they don the kilt. You’ll get a lot of attention, from how you look to how so-and-so’s grandfather came from Inverness to the eternal question of “Are you wearing anything under that?”
Just think of a world where men felt that seeing a woman in a dress was an invitation to ask her if she was wearing panties. Jeez. That’s a whole other post. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons I hardly ever wear a kilt.
That, and I’m no longer 150lbs. (I got too fat for my kilt.)
That relationship ran its course and I was the one who ended things. I wanted things to progress to marriage, kids, etc. And she didn’t.
A year later, I started seriously dating someone else (meaning I was sleeping with her regularly). Then we moved in together. Then another year later, we were married. And I got married in my kilt.
It’s something cool to get married in, and the whole getup with the Jacobite jacket and kilt and fuzzy sporran and hose and all of it are a sight to behold, and run the risk of ecclipsing a bride on her day. On that day, the grandmother of the bride was the one who asked me if I was wearing anything underneath. (Facepalm).
My bride to be liked the idea of me wearing the kilt because it was a slap in the face to that girlfriend who had bought it for me. As though she would hear about it and think “What wasn’t that me?!” In a petty, stupid way, I agreed. But that shouldn’t have sat well with either of us, because in my spite I thought it should have been that girlfriend who is likely still paying off the interest on the kilt she bought me with her student loans. My (now ex) wife’s spite should have woken her up to the idea that someone was probably a better match for me than her, and she was being petty because she “won.”
My pettiness was because I was settling and I wondered why I had to, and I wanted to make someone miserable because of it. Someone I still really cared about, but was still hurting because they wouldn’t be with me on this journey. I had settled though. The journey wasn’t going to be the same. It was going to be long and painful. In some ways it still is.
My kilt doesn’t fit right anymore. It’s made for a young man with 8% body fat. That isn’t me anymore. I’m sturdier. Balder. Beardier. Wrinkly. I drink too much coffee. I stay up nights with my mind running over and over. My teeth are yellowed like the keys of an old piano (from coffee). And I make the old guy sounds when I get out of chairs.
I’ve made mistakes.
I’ve stuck my hand in that fire so many times now that it no longer hurts like it once did. I could pick a broiler pan out of a stove and carry it to the table and get confused about what I’m smelling, the cooking slab of steak–or me.
I don’t know how much wiser I am now as compared to back then. Hopefully a little bit wiser. Probably not though.