There is a song by Avicii called “Wake Me Up” that has gotten a lot of play on the radio for the past six months or so. It has a compelling beat, more complexity than your typical EDM track, and there is no denying that the singer, Aloe Blacc, has a truly incredible voice. I like the song. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself and I…
I didn’t know I was lost
The lyrics have always made me tilt my head a little bit. They make me think of how much smarter I feel that I am as compared to five years ago, when I was appreciably smarter than five years before that. I don’t think that there’s anything I did then that I’m not better equipped to do now.
The strange place that this logic leads us is that in five years from now, I will probably feel the same way in comparison to my present self.
What, then, is the point of undertaking any great task? If whatever I am doing now could be done in a superior manner five years from now, why not put off the hard work till then? When I’m wiser and I’m older.
It is sort of a strange paradox. To quote another recent song, by Yellowcard (yes, Yellowcard) “They say you don’t grow up, you just grow old. It’s safe to say I haven’t done both.” I hear this song and I think about how age is typically associated with experience and wisdom. It is a valid correlation. Yet I can think of some individuals that I know who are well-advanced in years and haven’t learned or done very much. They’re older, but wiser? Maybe. Maybe not. I wonder if they feel the same way I do about their “past” self.
The reason I always cock my head when the chorus of “Wake Me Up” comes on is this: I have no interest in being woken up when “it’s all over.” That means I’ve missed whatever it is that’s happening, does it not? In all likelihood, I will be smarter, wiser, and better equipped for whatever books I’m writing, plans I’m making, relationships I’m investing in, when I’m five years older. Yet if I don’t do all of these things now, most of the experience that “comes with age” won’t ever truly take place for me. I’m wiser and better equipped now than I was five years ago not simply because I’m older, but because I’ve tried to go out and do things. I’ve fallen, I’ve stumbled, occasionally I’ve triumphed, and in the process, I have learned and grown quite a bit.
Hindsight is 20-20, as they say, but it’s strict blindness if you never go through the challenges at all.
So go ahead and wake up after everything important is over if you want. I’m going to be out here stumbling my way through tasks that are beyond me. With God’s help I’ll get better, and then I’ll be able to look at my past self once again and shake my head knowingly. Of course, my future self from that point will eventually do the same. This is a good thing.