Old Enough To Know Better

If you asked 21-year-old you, what 41-year-old you would be like – what would you have said?

I’m sitting here wracking my brain trying to remember what it was like to think like a 21-year-old. What was I doing? What was I dreaming about? The answer on both counts was probably: nothing much. I wasn’t especially motivated by “the future.” Thinking back about how I spent my time it seemed to be about immediate gratification versus carefully plotting or planning anything. More grasshopper, less ant.

Now that 42 is taunting me from 2 weeks in the future, I assess myself as doing more preparatory scheming than I did at 21. More ant, less grasshopper. But there are days when I wish I could re-learn to be impulsive. Oxymoron? Sometimes it feels like I think way too much about things before I make them happen.

Of course there are dangers to being impulsive. Rangers often find themselves rescuing inexperienced hikers from high elevations because they weren’t prepared with proper clothing, food, water or knowledge. That’s when impulsive decisions are stupid. Would I have ever done that – climbed to some high elevation without any consideration of the weather or anything else? Probably not.

It seems that my impulses are still guided by knowledge, however small. Or maybe by some assessment of the situation that calculates probable success; a calculation that happens so fast I’m not even aware of it. Maybe I’ve looked at this whole impulse thing wrong. Maybe what I’m really prattling about is spontaneity?

1. acting or done without forethought.
synonyms: impetuous, spontaneous, hasty, passionate, emotional, uninhibited;


performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.
synonyms: unplanned, unpremeditated, unrehearsed, impulsive, impetuous, unstudied, impromptu, spur-of-the-moment, extempore, extemporaneous;
(of a person) having an open, natural, and uninhibited manner.
synonyms: natural, uninhibited, relaxed, unselfconscious, unaffected, open, genuine, easy, free and easy;

Am I splitting hairs here? Does being impulsive seem like it can be more reckless than being spontaneous? Maybe not. Does it matter what it’s called if the desired outcome is the same? And that desired outcome is more heart-following, less hemming and hawing over whether it’s a good idea or not. Besides, no matter what it’s called it is done with the same amount of acquired knowledge.

How often does some inspiration come to you and in that immediate flash you’re excited by it! … only to talk yourself back down off the ledge and to a list of reasons why you should slow down? Maybe divine inspiration, maybe spontaneity is your real voice? Maybe that other voice that muscles in with its reasons why not is an asshole. Or maybe the voice of reason is the one that prolongs your life? Maybe there is a balance between the two? Maybe you learn that balance with age.

Maybe I’ve finally reached old enough to know better.

Better? Maybe. Maybe not.


This post is part of a 29 posts in 29 days blogging challenge hosted by Kathy at ToadMama.com. Today’s writing prompt: Your Age


Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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5 Responses

  1. Kathy says:

    “Impulsive” has some negative connotations that “spontaneity” lacks. Spontaneous is fun. Impulsive can be wreckless, and stupid. A healthy sense of mortality and learned common sense are both good things, and are both learned with age.

    Yes, older is better. AT least that’s what I keep telling myself.

    One thing for sure, we acquire more professional skills and experience as we age, which usually means a better salary. So, if you’re very lucky, you can afford to do a lot more than you could have when you were younger. Money isn’t everything, but it IS a big help.

  2. Lynne Gee says:

    Nope, do it while you’re 42 (or whatever) and fit enough to take it on.
    Add 20 yrs and you’ll be regretting any opportunities you didn’t take, because now you really can’t.
    Thanks for interesting blogs.

  3. Sandy says:

    Wait until you hit 51! automatically you become impulsive/spontaneous about everything LOL
    At least that is how it is for me now

  4. Splinter says:

    As so many of your posts do, I find myself asking: How does she know and describe so accurately my exact thoughts, feelings or situations?

  5. Warren says:

    The voice of reason started to really drown out my voice of adventure when I turned 50. It surprised me how suddenly this change occurred. Money cannot reverse this any more than it can reverse time. But we continue to bet with ourselves we can buy it all back later in life.

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