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Bifocals, Time Machines, and Wisdom

I read this excerpt from a book this summer:  ”People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.  The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see …”


In the past couple of years as my character has slowly been developing people have referred to me as a wise individual.  That’s hard for me to accept because when I envision someone brimful of wisdom I feel like he should be wearing bifocal spectacles and privately constructing a time machine in his liesure time.  And all it seems that I do is spend excessive time on the toilet playing iPhone games long after finishing pooping and avoiding scholastic responsibility.  This is a long shot from assembling a quantum mechanical device like the ideal wise man.

But really, when people assert to me that I am wise the first thought that trains through my head is, “Well… I’m no different than you?”  I mean, sure, I may spend more time on my porch overanalyzing things than you and I may have Stumbled through a few more inspirational picture quotes than you… but more wise?  Doubt it.  If I could deconstruct wisdom into component parts they would look like this:

1.  What you know
2.  How well you know what you know
3.  How to dispense what you know
4.  When is best appropriate to dispense what you know

For now, let’s pretend number two is the heart of wisdom, the flux capacitor of the time machine.  Let’s also pretend you read the quote in blue above (Actually don’t pretend.  Go read it real quick, I’ll wait.)  In the recent years I have stumbled across noticeably fewer “ah-ha!” moments.  I don’t think that’s because I am less keen to the profound, the paramount, or that I picked up the stupid stick and have been a naive ape ever since.  I have just begun to learn that perhaps growing in wisdom doesn’t always mean learning something new but rather reapplying those conventions we so easily veer away from, forget, or deliberately smother.

This is going to make me sound a lot older than I actually am but… when I talk to younger people I rarely see earth shattering revelations cognitively erupting inside them when I speak.  Typically they just gawk at me and wander why I don’t grow my beard longer and how my eyes are so blue and if I’m secretly building a time machine.  It’s not that there is no profundity to my words, I just am more intimate with the principles they already know, just as those older than me are more intimate with the principles I already know.  This is befuddling because intimacy knows no measures.  It is no use saying, “You know that saying if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is?  Yea well… I know it better than you.”

There are plenty of principles like - think before you speak, if it’s too good to be true it probably is, if you don’t have something kind to say don’t say it at all, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger - that you don’t have to be a withered old man tinkering on a theoretical machine to understand and be capable of asserting in your everyday life.  Too often we gather new information, store it, and then read books by wiser Christians, watch online sermons of more popular preachers, and beg God to open our eyes when He already has.  What if you already know what you need to know, but you just need to know it better?  More intimately.  What if you weren’t always searching for something, but reminiscing and contemplating what you are so eager to forget?  Think about it, if you have ever been told you are wise or know someone you label wise.  Do they really know all this stuff that you don’t know or are they just savvy at reminding themselves of the importances of life?  Think deep.

- It is what it is. You are what you are. Just try to enjoy your day.

  1. madeperfect posted this
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