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The Comfort Of Time, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:59am

I was going to write about wisdom. Then hoses of our newly-installed washing machine started to drip water and that was a whole drama. Resolved now. Back to original plan.

Do you all understand what wisdom even is? I’ve had several conversations lately in which I wind up at “I don’t know.”

Because the concept can be different for everyone. Even what to me feels like the Ur-Wise Guidance–Patience, my friend–might be terribly unwise for someone in an abusive situation.

I know that several thought systems organize around the idea of known and received wisdom, and many people find great comfort and insight there. But that way doesn’t work for my particular mindset, or my experience of the enormous gift that is a life.

But I do experience the feeling of wisdom, now and then, these days. My self, whatever that is, says to my self, “Give it time.” A faulty washing machine installation, making new friends, the fortunes and fates of those I love so dearly I’d give up my beloved life for them in an instant, for everything, “give it time.”

This doesn’t have to mean “Wait.” It means find inside of yourself the weight of all the time you’ve lived through. The experience of time passing in and of itself, rather than any specific lesson you may have learned in that time. Actively give whatever you’re facing, time.

Access to feeling wise is enough for me. To feel wise is calming, loving and gives hope, whether codified wisdom in fact exists or not. And this access can help other people feel better.

Because the other piece, in my completely invented opinion, is offering someone else the chance to feel, in conversation, that wisdom is possible. I only experience this when I’m listening carefully to a person in need, and I get out of my own way and answer from deep in my heart. Probably from a time of struggle. And time, of course, will have passed since and I feel its tailwind.

This is when I wish I had become a professor and knew a physics genius I could take to tea and ask what if anything science knows about the relationship of time to consciousness. We’d want to invite our friend the neurologist as well.

But lacking expertise, and in the interest of trying to make an iota of sense, I’ll just say that getting older offers different opportunities for joy than those I knew before.

Have a lovely weekend, each and every one of you.

8 Responses

  1. A timely topic..I’ve got In Search of Wisdom on my TBR pile…Ricard/Andre/ conversation. A monk, a philosopher and a psychiatrist on “what matters most”. The monk was a cellular biologist…

    1. Report back;). I do wonder, is wisdom something to be searched for? Or does it just show up in the fullness of time?

  2. Sometimes I think “wisdom” is just a combination of experience and exhaustion, leading to the well-known responses of “Let it be” or “This too shall pass” – and yet…

    W H Auden ends the Preface to his long suite of poems, “The Sea and the Mirror,” with the Iines “…this world of fact we love / Is unsubstantial stuff: / All the rest is silence / on the other side of the wall; / And the silence ripeness, / And the ripeness, all.”

    Wisdom, indeed.

  3. Wisdom or showing wisdom is a gift and a trait to be admired. Many are quick to act then often regret the outcome and see the outcome as shortsighted. Trial and error is a factor; where does wisdom fit here? What might be considered as a wise and strategic move today could be totally the opposite in time. This just says, life is fluid as is wisdom.

  4. Yes , difficult . Children say things leading to the judgement “wise beyond his/her years” which suggests it comes with advancing years . Personally I’ve not noticed (I’m 70) . I had an elderly friend many years ago whom I thought very wise – but I remember her saying “I don’t know anything about anything !” and then apologising for sounding self-satisfied . I think I am beginning to understand now , a bit .

  5. “I was going to write about wisdom. Then hoses of our newly-installed washing machine started to drip water and that was a whole drama. Resolved now. Back to original plan.”

    I’m a great believer in opening lines.

    If “wisdom” is hard experience, I could have fixed those drips in 10 minutes. But it’s not.

    If “wisdom” is responding to temporary “drama,” I could have soothed the frazzled nerves of those standing by in 10 minutes. But it’s not.

    If “wisdom” is taking out the Installation Manual, we could have opened it together, and read aloud for 10 minutes. But it’s not.

    If “wisdom” is accurately reading the room – classroom, emergency room, dining room, any room – then those with the rare trait of Intuition will always rise, inform and be present for whatever situation arises.

    I submit, therefore, that the rare trait of Intuition is the greater part of Wisdom.

    Don’t bother checking the OED, it’s not there.

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