I increasingly feel that being quick-witted is overrated. What is it for? Being funny? We seem to be obsessed with speed in everything and that includes thinking. Perhaps this is part of our fixation with youth. Certainly, when I was younger, I was far more quick witted than I am now. One aspect of this was a ‘switch-blade’ memory: where I never found myself unable to retrieve the exact word when I needed it. I am beginning to suspect that this was an illusion – that, in my 20s, my notion of the ‘exact word’ might well not pass muster now. Of course, another explanation for my current struggles to retrieve the ‘exact word’ could be put down to ageing. However, it does seem to me that there are other (more agreeable *grin*) possible explanations. It could be that I am now much more exacting about what the ‘exact word’ might be. It could be that I have trained my brain to suit my job as a writer so that it delivers to me the ‘exact word’. It could be that I have been constantly filling my head with ‘stuff’ since then and that it just takes a bit longer to search for the ‘exact word’ amongst the miles of dusty shelves that now constitute my memory.
Not that any of this really matters because what I am really wanting to say is that if I now appear to be thinking more slowly, it is because I am swimming deeper – spanning longer reaches of argument. Perhaps this is what we all do as we grow older. Perhaps this is the benefit that ageing brings not just to us, but to the rest of society. Perhaps this is the path that leads towards wisdom.