From the 86th floor observation deck in the Empire State building, life looks different. It is cooler up there, and the wind blows a little harder. You can see where the traffic is, you can see the Hudson and East Rivers swirling around Manhattan, the honking is barely audible, and sometimes you can even see the tops of the clouds.
It’s magical, but you can’t stay there forever… and it’s a bit of a shock when you’re standing back down on the Big City’s pavement with the trucks rumbling by, people yelling, and lights flashing in your eyes. What we were used to before we took the elevator to the top is suddenly unfamiliar.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
When we’re kids we wait to grow up. We think that the landmark ages of 18, 21, or 30 are what make us “grownups.” It isn’t true. Sure, at a certain point we are allowed to smoke or drink, and we’re “adults.” But when do we “grow up?” Maybe it’s when we begin to view life from the 86th floor. When we can see if the travelers on their way home are taking the right turns. Afterwards, even if we’re only up there once, things back on the ground never seem quite the same.
Sometimes we grow up faster than we thought we would.
Rabbi Meir once said about people, “Do not look at the flask, but at what is in it. There are new flasks filled with old [fine] wine and old flasks which do not even contain new wine.” We are not guaranteed to be wise when we’re old, but with each new experience, lesson, and journey we gain a new perspective–and a little more wisdom.