Consecutive Days Riding: 84 Consecutive Days Blogging: 85
Today’s Mileage: 8 Total Trip Mileage: 695
As I ride the bike this morning I think about how quickly the celebrations of the New Year have come to an end. How quickly we find ourselves back on the path, back to the grind and the demands of life. We strike off again with a hand full of new resolutions, refreshed motivation and knowledge that spring will soon follow the cold biting winds of winter.
Yesterday I shared with you a number of quotes and images to ponder as you faced the New Year. One of my regular blog followers made that comment: “Funny how some authors lend themselves to quotes, and others, also favorites, will hardly have a quotable sentence in a whole book.” Almost two weeks ago I produced a blog entitled: Inspirational Sayings: Gifts With Out Instructions. I noted that inspirational messages, while important, may be meaningless if the person receiving them is without the skill, abilities or resources to meet the goal they are working towards. My viewer’s comment got me to wondering about Wisdom. Is it always useful and meaningful? How is it that some people can present it in a sentence or two, while others need a whole lecture, book or lifetime to express it?
I googled the phase “Words of Wisdom” and found over 18 million references. The search broke them down into general categories which included: Funny Words of Wisdom, Inspirational Quotes, Words of Encouragement, Short Words of Wisdom, and Words of Wisdom and More Good Advice.
How do I make sense of the sources and forms of Wisdom? To begin, I must speak in a general way to what I see as the primary motivation of our journey through life. I believe that life is a process. Like a dance, it is a balance between two partners. One partner is represented by our desire to find meaning in life, to understand it, and to make it at best, predictable. This partner tends to explore the past for patterns and the future for possibilities. The second partner is represented by our desire to experience life. This partner lives in the moment of the sensations of the dance, the rhythm and beat of the music, the spinning and twirling and the movement of the dance. One partner reviews the past and points to the future as the other spins and twirls in the moment. Together they can achieve a balance that advances both causes and fills both desires.
I believe that finding this balance is a major goal for most individuals and that it is the healthiest goal we can undertake! Some people fall short of this goal, as they fail to see life as a dance. They may deny one partner to the advantage of the other. They act as if life is a solitary dance and as a result turn all of life into an intellectual puzzle, or a hedonistic free for all. Others recognize the dance and the presence of the two partners, but then give dominance to one, allowing them to be the sole leader and director of the dance.
I have observed that if one has not found this balanced dance, that person often feels as if something is “missing.” They feel as if they are missing a partner or are unable to “get onto the same page of music.” The dance becomes a struggle. When you achieve the balance, comfort and joy are found and the dance becomes effortless!
Back to the question of Wisdom! I believe that wisdom comes about when we recognize patterns in the dance and can make predictions about choices and paths we might follow. This experience can be put into words and represents the Wisdom of Meaning. Wisdom can also arise in the experiential realm of the dance. This is “known” but not spoken and shows up in the ease of the master athlete when a racket or bat becomes but an extension of their arm. The person with this wisdom imagines a movement or a dance step and it just happens. To some it may look like magic or the product of the supernatural, while others will recognize it as the Wisdom of Experience (knowledge of the dance movement).
I believe that each type of Wisdom has two forms! Personal Wisdom is unique to our story and circumstances but may have little application to others. There is only one eldest son of Lee and Rose Ann, born in Iowa, raised in the Dakotas, veteran of the US Navy, artist, poet, therapist, college professor and now a stationary pilgrim! My personal wisdom has created many an interesting story, as my students regularly attest, but only bits and pieces of it reverberate with my listeners. The other form is Universal Wisdom. It is achieved when the dancer sees common patterns in their dance and the dance of others. This wisdom is realized in the shared aspects of the dance.
For all my uniqueness, I share many experiences with others; of being an eldest child, a veteran, a therapist, a teacher, a parent, an artist. I believe that what makes me a good teacher and therapist is my ability to weave and highlight this more universal wisdom into the details of my stories. Sometimes I try to distill it out into a quote or a sentence or two (i.e. Be certain, but humble!). At other times I highlight it like a bright thread running throughout the story. I hope the listener might recognize similar threads in their own histories and follow them to find the universal wisdom in their lives. I believe it is this universal wisdom that makes up the bulk of the “inspirational and motivational quotes and advice” people view as gems of wisdom. Personal wisdom on the other hand might be intriguing and interesting, but does not reverberate with many other people.
Back to the question of why some authors and teachers are so quotable and others are not? Some individuals hold primarily personal wisdom even though they may harbor a great deal of knowledge about topics of interest (e.g. hold a PhD in an area). But look as hard as you can and you will not find the universal gems. Other individuals have achieved not only a level of universal wisdom, but the ability to distill it down into a handful of words or a poignant and relevant example. These gems are often embraced by others as a gift and/or a significant discovery. This is in part because it seems that the giver has done all of the work of mining them from a life lived, a life dance embraced! I caution you to recognize these as gifts but not answers. They are insights into patterns, universal yes, but patterns that you must work to uncover in your own dance. The universal wisdom is only valuable if we make it personal in our own life. It must be transformed into personal wisdom, and used to bring balance to our dance. Otherwise it is just a showy piece of costume jewelry and not a special treasure.
A quick note on today’s blog title; I have been planning a drop in gathering for my eldest son as he leaves for the Army in three days. He informed his mother today that he will not make it to the event. I have a suspicion that he is looking for an excuse to not let family and friends say their goodbyes. This saddens me but is not surprising. He has made a practice out of making his choices, while ignoring the needs and desires of others. That is his choice! All I can do is try to glean some wisdom from the whole experience, which is why I also remind myself: “The best laid plans are just that… plans!”