There are reasons why older is not necessarily wiser. You’re never more open to new experience than when you’re twenty. After that, the need to make money, the fear of having no work, the demands of children, the sense that the world is moving in strange new directions, the appearance of unfamiliar forms of expression that inevitably seem less wonderful than the ones that changed your life when you were twenty cause the aperture to slowly narrow.
By fifty, the obvious fact of your own decline is easily mistaken for an intimation of the world’s. And, since there’s never a shortage of evidence that things are, indeed, worse than they used to be, it’s incredibly satisfying to indulge the idea, and easy to confuse it with a veteran’s seasoned judgment.
George Packer, writing in The New Yorker