Some say the elephant is wise, others say the owl. To some wisdom is an animal, to others a person, a parent or a mentor. To others wisdom is a philosophy, a religion or God.
According to Merriam Webster:
Definition of wisdom
1. a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge
b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight
c : good sense : judgment
d : generally accepted belief
2. a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3. the teachings of the ancient wise men
According to the Christian Bible Reference Site: In the Biblical sense, wisdom is the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.” (Lockyer p. 1103)
For me: Wisdom is a journey. It is a chosen path based on experience, failure, success and perseverance. I have often learned more and become more wise by my failure than through my success. There is just something more true about the ability to fall down, shake it off and get back up again to try again. The sheer resilience, the hope found in overcoming – just doesn’t happen in the easy ‘win.’
And you know what else? The wisest women and men I have met will not claim to have ‘it’ all together. Instead they tell the story of their life, the wisdom journey that accumulated over years, and tears and sweat. Yet when I listen to the details of their life experience, I hear the interwoven choice of joy. This joy seems to show up by sheer will in the face of incredible opposition. I am always humbled and honored to sit at the feet of those who care to share their life lessons with me.
Wisdom is portrayed as a woman in the Bible. I kind of really like that, probably because I am a woman… Proverbs 4:5-9 says:
Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
and present you with a glorious crown.
There are wisdom traditions throughout our world and history. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Vedanta, Daoism; all manner of religion or philosophy call upon the people to grow in this practice or knowledge. Wisdom seems to be a large part of the path to maturity and completely transformative to our nature. Think hot headed person vs. wise person and you probably just formed a complete mental picture of each.
So how do we find this Wisdom Path? Must we fail so frequently as to become discouraged, depressed or even victimized before we get wise? Maybe. Are there books and teachings to follow to avoid the shortcomings of not yet being wise? Probably. Are there people that are alive and breathing that are more wise than ourselves to glean from? Absolutely!
What if we stepped out and began seeking wisdom? What if we shared the wisdom we have learned, stumbled upon or been hit over the head with? What if we had discussions concerning wisdom?
I don’t know about you, but I personally missed wise counsel – probably by no ones fault but my own. I am sure pride got in my way. Not just pride of knowing ‘it’ all but also pride that created a barrier for me to ask for someone else’s wisdom. I had no wisdom practice. I looked for no teacher.
Society today no longer lives in a familial network of generational wisdom in the same house, sometimes not even in the same community. We don’t honor Wise elders. In fact we don’t even like the word ‘old’ or ‘elder.’ Outside of certain Universities or religions, we don’t even consider wisdom.
One of the things that I so would have appreciated as a younger person was someone to come along side me and share what they had learned with me. Not in a judgemental, ‘You Should…’ sort of way, but in a, ‘Here is what happened and what I found/learned…’ sort of way. I knew I wanted a different way than the way I grew up – I desired something kinder, more loving and wiser. Now I can be that person to my younger self. In NO way, shape or form do I proclaim to have this thing called ‘life’ figured out. But I have learned a lot, I have come a long way. I bet you have too! At age 50, I am deciding to share the lessons I have learned and the wisdom I have gained a long the way.
In the next days, weeks, months I am choosing to write the lessons I wish I knew when I was in my twenties (and 30’s and 40’s – I didn’t say I was a fast learner). I hope you will jump in and enjoy the Wisdom discussion with me! I would love to hear what wisdom means to you!