Oh, how I want to be wise! The longer I grow in my faith, the longer I learn to love and accept my connectedness to other human (especially those I cannot stand), the more I must hitch myself to the wisdom wagon. Rich would be great. Wealthy would be stupendous. Healthy is a wondrous blessing. But all of those will dissipate when I’m gone. Wealth might live on in the things my children or beneficiaries create, which is a fine legacy to leave. But wisdom. Well, that is the ultimate for me. Because it exists for and of the collective rhythm of this world. Wisdom whittles, refines the gift of life into something that cannot be touched by the destructive tendencies of human nature. Wisdom moves through us just as the blood in our veins. Unnoticed but involuntary. Persistent and penitent, waiting for us to just get our heads out of our asses and do right by it.
Our flawed relationship with wisdom persists because we are certain it exists outside of us. We define it by others’ words and accomplishments, by what we can purchase, see and touch: an award, a celebrity sponsored campaign, a pile of money. But wisdom is a gift experienced only by those that lose themselves daily. Every day, maybe as they brush their teeth or feed the dog, they build a plan to live outside of their hearts so that they may try on another’s. Their heads stay clear and unbothered of what usually proves to be bullshit. Isn’t that dreamy? Clear and unbothered. Because the lessons lie in the simplest of places: each other.
Now stay with me. I am not about to get flowery. I am not an optimist or even notably positive. I run from social situations. I fight the temptation to judge everyone: privileged Whites, the homeless, old people that are still driving, the families that allow them to continue driving, political leaders, even babies that cry too long. I sometimes find other’s happiness off putting and inconvenient because I am either jealous or unwilling to choose joy over lamentation.
I am just a mess of recycled mistakes and will.
So know that my assertion of our need for each other is not a sweet and tidy wish. Rather, it is an unapologetic acknowledgement in the causal relationship of us; us as strangers, or family, or sworn enemies. The qualifier is irrelevant because without it we are still standing there, walking along our perceived bottom line in defense of fear. Our individual lines sometimes intersect and overlap as we kill and heal each other without so much as a fleeting glance in each other’s eyes. But the pain is acute and real. And our fault. And not our fault. And the pain does not operate apart from wisdom. Wisdom is the truth of an every day death and a commitment to eternal hope. It requires the regulation of ego and emotion, and the patience and discernment to look around, really look around, and land at the intersection of facts and compassion.
Wisdom is about knowing and using that knowledge to build and sustain what we value, what we cherish. The wise people in my life always exude a calm knowing, a trust in the process of life. They are not swept away by uncertainy and the familiar panic of our mainstream society. I believe this is because they understand the patience and investment wisdom requires. It’s the long game. Wise folks know the truth will reveal itself, but we must have the courage to acknowledge it and the integrity to act upon it.
What is your perceived bottom line in this life? What do you cherish and how are you acting in a way the protects and loves your relationships, your community? Wisdom is complex and deep. But then so are we. I encourage you to devote some time to check the wisdom in your actions and decisions. I am working on it with you.
There is some wonderful follow up reading on this site. Essays, reflections and even data on wisdom to help feed you on this journey. Also, here is amazing TED talk on wisdom to get your juices flowing.
Go out and get you some life this week. Love you BIG,