"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Thursday, July 08, 2004
"What does this word mean?"
Function: transitive verb
1 a : to call back b : to bring back to mind c : to remind one of : RESEMBLE
2 : CANCEL, REVOKE
3 : RESTORE, REVIVE
4 : What a man I met today didn't seem to have.
Some people can be disarmingly approachable; I've always fancied myself to be one of those people. Today, I met another one, but I think it was because it never occurred to him to do it any other way.
I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room. There were a few ladies scattered about and then one older man came in and sat down. He looked sort of like a skinny version of the late Redd Fox.
"Excuse me ma'am," he said to the lady sitting nearest him, two or three seats away, but plenty loud enough for the rest to hear.
"Excuse me, but what is 'wisdom'?"
The lady turned towards him, surprised at his question. "What do you mean?"
"I want to know what wisdom is. I do not know what it is and I want to know."
This question from a man who was at least sixty years old, and obviously not from another country.
"Well," she gamely began, "Wisdom is, like, uh, knowledge."
"Wisdom is knowledge?"
"Yes, wisdom is what you know, how much you have learned."
"Oh," the man replied. "They tell me I need to have more wisdom. I guess I must be pretty stupid, huh?"
He smiled disarmingly at her.
"No, no, that's not what I mean," she said.
"But they tell me I need more wisdom. What do you think?" Now he was looking straight at me.
"I think," I said, "that we all need more wisdom."
The first lady looked at me, grateful for the rescue.
"And you? And you?" The man went around the entire waiting room, each person agreeing that we all need more wisdom.
He sat for a moment, soaking all this in. He looked at another lady, across the room from him. "What do you think wisdom is? Is wisdom what we know?"
"Well, what we know is a facet of wisdom, yes..."
"Oh, wait," the man laughed. "Facet? Now you are using more big words that I do not know! What about you, what is wisdom to you?" Now he was looking to me to answer his question.
"To me, wisdom is making right decisions. I think of it this way. Let's say that I have some money. Over here," I gestured with my hand to one side, "is something that I could buy that would be a waste of my money. But over here is something I could buy that I needed and that would be valuable. Buying the thing of value is wisdom."
He looked at me, and it seemed like a light had come on in his eyes. "Oh...I understand now."
Then he proceeded to give several examples of wisdom, as he understood it. Although some were rather dubious in their actual wisdom, I could see that he had the concept.
How amazing, to meet a man who did not know what wisdom was. I am sure he once knew, but as a result of disease, illness, or treatment his mind had slipped.
I consider it a privilege that I could help him tape a part of it back together, at least temporarily.
But his spirit, his spirit was already striving in the proper direction. I think that if all his facilities left him, and all that remained was that spirit, he would still be pointed straight and true.
And that's cool.
But, I must say, I'm really glad he didn't ask what sex was...
We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take us or spare us.
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)