One of my favorite moments at an SF con was when someone asked Lois McMaster Bujold about some conspiracy theory or other, and she said something like, “The longer I live the more I realize that no grand conspiracy could ever work, because people just aren’t that competent. There are no grown-ups, we’re all faking it, and no one is in charge.”
I tend to agree about the conspiracy part—how many people do you know who really keep secrets? Yeah, a few, maybe…but what percentage?
However, I’m not so sure about the “there are no grown-ups” part. Mind you, when young adults “come of age” they haven’t actually grown up—they just move to a station in life where they’ve got more freedom to make their own mistakes. And that’s as it should be.
But for myself, I find there is an age when you’ve gained enough experience that you start feeling genuinely grown-up. A bit less like you’re faking it all the time. Or more accurately, even though life still throws you plot twists, you’ve learned enough about how the world and people work that you’re at least a bit better at coping with them. I’ve named this phenomena “Crone Power,” because it was around my late forties or early fifties when I finally started to feel like I was beginning to get things figured out. People who don’t understand the symbolism of the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone don’t get this name…but since the biggest part of Crone Power comes from knowledge, I have no real problem with that. By the time they get to be Crones, maybe they’ll have figured it out. And it’s a very real power. Your body pretty much sucks (menopause, arrrgh!) but your greater experience actually begins to compensate—and this is something nobody ever told me would happen, and I didn’t expect it.
So anyway, I think there is a time in life when we finally come of age…it’s just a lot later than people usually assume.