Well, I guess my big birthday was 16. It represented freedom to me in the typical way, but it wasn't a huge deal. Suddenly I had a job and a car - those were the big changes. Oddly enough, I'd like to be able to do without both those things now. So it goes.
Age does matter to me. I will judge a younger person differently than an older one. It's not necessarily negative, and doesn't negate the opinions of either, but there is a certain scope you achieve when you don't live with your parents anymore, buy your first car, spend your first holiday alone, etc. Suddenly a whole bunch of stuff that used to irritate you make a good amount of sense. Teens have valid opinions, but they don't weigh heavily in comparison. And it's certainly not just in the one direction either, I have a similar opinion of people above a certain age. They grew up in a different world (hell, I grew up in a different world) and, in my opinion, a lot of them are out of touch with what matters to younger generations. Age matters, but not necessarily negatively or positively. It just matters, it affects a lot. Nothing will change that, and nothing could. Perhaps the most naive thing I hear young people say is that age doesn't matter. Age and experience matter a lot. Experience being the key, in my opinion, experience outweighs education. If you need proof of that, look no farther than the military. A 23 year old Sergeant with two combat tours will be a much more effective combat leader than a 23 year old Lieutenant with a four year degree in military history.
We evolve as we age. I'm not sure what it is, but it is noticeable while being virtually unnoticeable while we're evolving. I guess, the best example I can think of is this: 25 year old "Vet" would not have had his spinal vertebrates fractured the way 22 year old "Vet" did. It's not because I care less now, or even because I'm less gung-ho, it's just because I'm a bit more cautious. One of best pieces I've written during the past two years starts with the line, "I was invincible." The crazy part of that is that in retrospect it seems like I honestly thought that. Even crazier, all scarred up with a bum knee and fractured back I still sort of think it, but now I'm aware that I'm vulnerable. Figure that out.
(A dream of mine is that one day I'll be _wise_ enough to make sense of all the paradoxes that I view the world in. How amazing would that be?)
Wisdom, I think that's something that comes with age (experience actually, but I like the original phrase), however I don't believe it's a quality you ever really see in yourself. I think it's something you attribute to other people, but not to yourself. We know, at least I know myself too well to ever assume wisdom as the cause for any of my opinions or actions.
Before Nietzsche went bonkers his philosophy centered around the idea that man's life was a work of art. There are a lot different directions we can take that simple idea, one being how much the world has changed that we no longer attribute much to art, but more importantly we can follow the idea into what place art holds in our lives, if not in our culture anymore. Virgil, Dante, etc often alluded to the idea that The Poet was the highest station in life. Nothing was more important than that. I sort of like that idea, but not in the elitist way it may first come off. When you combine that concept with Nietzsche's you get a pretty powerful idea: As the artists of our own lives, we are achieving our highest possible potential.
Art, more than any other venture of man, harnesses our relationship to the world around us. It's our response to nature, and all the things that we're part of. That significance, sadly, is being overlooked more and more often, but it's still there. I've never met a person who couldn't have their breath taken away by nature, or a representation of nature. We respond to that beauty, we strive for that connection with the things around us. Where age, or experience fall into this, in my opinion, is that the older we get, the more open we are to find this relationship with things around us. I don't have much scope yet on areas like this, but I have a little. And I can remember being 13 and thinking paintings were generally dumb, but comic books were pretty cool. And at 19 I thought realistic art was impressive, but modern art was gibberish. Now, I can spend hours staring at virtually any piece in the Dallas Museum of Art and just take notes and be blown away. Most of it strikes me now, and even if it doesn't I can usually open my eyes and brain a little more and find some way to attach to it.
I guess what I'm saying is that as we age our world becomes bigger, and as our world becomes bigger we become a little more perceptive, and as we become a little more perceptive we start to figure some things out.
You know what I mean?
Reader took my original answer. :)