Here’s to being wise
Posted on April 11th, 2012
I’m afraid of figuring it all out. Terrified.
“Don’t worry, Chris,” you may say. “That’s impossible!”
Well, thanks, but I’m already quite aware of that.
I’m terribly conscience of my mental limitations (This is nothing a few pulls of espresso cannot temporarily abolish!). I’m also relieved to know that the brightest primates in our long history have shared these limitations.
As it turns out, a brilliant mind can be capable of describing fine details of planetary motion, inventing calculus, etc., but is ultimately only a razor’s edge from going bat-shit crazy from pursuit of the next big breakthrough.
Isaac, it has happened to the best of us. But I can appreciate the sentiment.
Have you seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? If not, I think you should. It’s a favorite of mine.
At the end of that movie, an adolescent, old man, pre-pubescent, dementia ridden version of Brad Pitt’s character describes some confusion. He feels like he has lived this whole other life, but couldn’t really remember any of it.
I get the feeling.
Now, I have lots of memories from my childhood and teenage years. I know the story in some detail, having lived through it all. But it’s odd. I do not think my brain went online, so to speak, until I was in my twenties.
Maybe it was around the time I picked my College major. Do you remember a similar moment? The instant where you had to make that first decision which would affect the rest of your life?
All of the sudden there was stuff to worry about. There were real goals to consider. There were opinions and causes to pursue. And most importantly, there were the wise folks out there to give you guidance.
It’s natural to think of life in those terms. You start out young and naive, slowly accumulating knowledge and wisdom until you reach the point where you are qualified, by some magical standard, to start teaching others. Is that how it works?
I’ve heard it said many times, “Well, when you’ve lived as long as I have, you learn a thing or two.” Yes, I get it. And maybe I do not entirely disagree. But there’s just one little problem.
The world remains infinitely complex and gorgeous and mind blowing, while most of us have no idea what the fuck we’re talking about!
Maybe wisdom isn’t actually about telling people the right thing to do, the right thing to think, or the right thing to believe. Maybe it’s the last thing you should expect to come from the mouth of a professing politician, preacher man, or teacher.
Maybe wisdom is actually something much more simple, humble, and elegant. Maybe it’s just the act of searching. Maybe it’s about never getting too comfortable in one place, or with one accomplishment. That would only foster the feeling of hubris.
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with the pursuit of the next big goal. That’s just an illusion. It could be that the real lesson is to never stop looking. There’s just too much that can slip by when you’re not paying attention.
My son is now six months old. With a bit of real parenting experience under my belt, I can easily say that this is the most amazing, beautiful, terrifying, and worrisome experience of my life.
I want to capture every moment and remember it. I want to provide everything he could ever want or need. I want to keep him safe. But most of all, I want to share with him everything I know, as dangerous as that may be.
I can imagine at some point we may be sitting together on a late summer afternoon. Maybe on our patio, or perhaps by our pool if daddy can afford that house. If we’re lucky, we’ll find ourselves on a beach somewhere.
He’ll ask me questions. He’ll share a few problems he’s facing. I’ll smile, give him a kiss on the forehead, and look back over the horizon.
“Pay close attention, Max. You don’t want to miss the last few seconds of that sunset.”
- Is it really that obvious? (thechrismooreblog.com)
- Install your filters (thechrismooreblog.com)
- Make a run for it! (thechrismooreblog.com)