Words of Wisdom: Wisdom

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Owls are said to be wise. We usually call them “Wise Old Owls” because age is said to bring wisdom.

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, owls symbolized education and intellect because of their wide eyes and their solemn look. Many Native American cultures attribute foresight to the owl and they see it as the keeper of sacred knowledge. Owls also have the ability to see through darkness.

Then what about age? Does age really bring wisdom? May is Older American Month, but I wonder if we’re wise enough to call it something like American Wisdom Month.

Recently, the University Geriatrics Institute of Montreal, Canada, published some very interesting research on the subject. The author of the study, Dr. Oury Monchi, revealed that age really does bring wisdom. The brains of older people are not only as agile as younger people’s brains, but years of life experience and decision-making prepare older people able to use their brains in a far more efficient way.

Seniors in this study were found to be less bothered by making a mistake, more patient when making a decision, can better allocate their brain’s resources, and only engage certain parts of their brain at the exact moment they are needed. The older brain has experience and it knows that nothing is gained by jumping the gun.

That’s what wisdom looks like. With a talent for experienced decision-making, agile thinking, and a lifetime of experiences and lessons-learned, senior citizens deserve the title of Wise Old Owls.

So, for Older Americans Month, I’ll celebrate it with Dr. Monchi’s discovery: “The findings of our study contradict previous theories claiming that our brains deteriorate with age. Aging is not necessarily associated with a significant loss in cognitive function.”

But then, that leaves the all-important question of what to do with all that wisdom. This week’s
contributing writer, Nate DiTonto, has discovered that many seniors use their hard-earned wisdom to enjoy skills and pastimes which the frantic years of their youth might not have allowed.

They know that there is not only great wisdom in serving others in word and in deed as Nate describes, but there is also great satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Native American tradition of the Wise Old Owl offers one more insight we should take note of. Owls also have the ability to see through darkness, and we are living in dark times. The wisdom, patience, and experience of old age are needed now more than ever.

Perhaps the most important message of Older American Month is to remind us to value the great treasure of wisdom our seniors have accumulated and now want to offer back. Many cultures around the world hold old age in the highest honor and reverence because of their wisdom.

But that’s not all the wisdom your Jamestown Gazette has to offer you this week. We also want our readers to know that Friday of this week is National Smile Day. For the occasion, we think nobody has put wisdom, age, and happiness together in a long time better than John Lennon.

Count your age by friends, not years.
Count your life by smiles, not tears.

So, smile as much as you can this week while you gain ever more wisdom by enjoying the read right here in your very own Jamestown Gazette.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.