Friday, February 23, 2007

Foolish Musings on Wisdom

What is wisdom and who can grasp it? Where can one go to purchase this thing called wisdom? Does one ever have enough of it? Once you get some of it, does it remain with you always?

I would say there are few people who would argue against the idea that wisdom is a good thing to pursue. And yet, there is so little space for wisdom in our culture that finding space for it is a daunting task. "Yes, wisdom is a good thing, but who has time for it?"

Here are a few foolish musings on wisdom:

1. There are two sources of wisdom. Personal experience and other people's experience.

Personal experience is often times pretty straight forward. If you do something, you know that it is like to do it. Then you choose whether or not to do it again. Or you choose to modify the way in which you did it in order to alter the outcome.

The experiences of others is not as straight forward nor are they as easily to internalize. Who the "others" are matters. Is it friends, family and co-workers and that's it? What about historical figures? What about Biblical figures? The storehouses of historical and sacred wisdom are so vast, so expansive that we hardly notice them. They are like intricate and highly detailed wall paper that you might notice at a glance, but seldom look at for it deep design or message.

2. There are pre-wisdom steps that are necessary in order to gain wisdom.
A. Acknowledge that there is such a thing as wisdom.
B. Assess its value relative to your life and find yourself lacking.
C. Decide that it is worth pursuing.
D. Pursue it in the course of daily life, not merely as a cognitive exercise outside of daily life.

3. Practice all the wisdom you gain.

4. When you fail to do number three, reflect on those times and assess what it is about you that wars against wisdom. If this becomes an exercise in guilt, then you're not doing it. In failure, wisdom transcends guilt toward a more wholesome and less toxic motivation.

5. Pass along your wisdom, but only when it has become part of who you are. Resist the temptation to immediately tell everyone about the great new thing you learned before it is really who you are. Sharing gained wisdom too quickly, before it is who you are, will result in embarrassment and hypocrisy.

6. When you fail to do number 5, reflect on those times understanding that guilt may be a temptation.

7. Develop relationships with people younger and less experienced than you are and live your wisdom in their presence. You do this for them, but you do this for you, too. If you have gained a sense of wisdom, being in relationship with someone who perhaps thinks you are wise raises the bar for you and challenges you to be persist in your wisdom.

What does all of this have to do with stepfamilies? Hopefully you see that it has quite a bit to do with stepfamilies. If anyone needs to pursue wisdom it is people who find themselves in complex situations wherein the rules are not clear, the playing filed is not level, and the cultural context works against them. Stepfamilies, in large measure, fit this definition.

Pursue wisdom a little and you will find it a little. Pursue it a lot and you will find it a lot. Never stop pursuing it and you will never exhaust its vast storehouses.

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