Wisdom is an interesting concept. It sounds like a very important word. But what does it really mean?
My first inclination is to think that common sense is required. But, what is common sense? Some people would say that you know it when you see it. But is that always true?
My own interest in the word wisdom really came into focus after the 9-11 attacks. How would our leaders, those we put into power, deal with its aftermath. (It is interesting to me that I found myself using the word aftermath because that feels like there is some sort of calculation going on.)
But my feminine side kept thinking, there is more to this than a rational set of factors that contribute to this complex response.
My hope was that our leaders would not exploit this for their own purposes, but focus on the most correct response as the facts became clearer.
A few years later, I was seeking to develop my own counseling approach with clients. I wanted a way to move past checking off the "done" box regarding some problem thought or behavior, and then repeating the same mistakes again. I wanted to understand key elements of growing in wisdom.
Developing wisdom doesn't seem like something that happens overnight. I was beginning to see that in human development, older adults were often overlooked in counseling theories. Youth were the dominate areas for detailed developmental perspectives. Yet, in many cultures there was a special place for elders in their societies for honoring the wisdom of experience.
What happens between youth/young adult development and the aged? What were our adult leaders thinking? How would their own experiences and understandings come into play?
While exploring this in the conscious world, I had a dream one night:
I walked into a restaurant that had a down-home country feel to it. A game of chance was available. It consisted of a large water jug with cups in it. The idea was to drop a coin into the jug and if it landed on one of the cups, you won something. There were lots of coins at the bottom and very few in the cups.
I took out a penny and dropped it in the top. I saw that the top cup was wisdom. My penny dropped past it. The coin continued past the other cups on its way down and I began to feel sad that I missed the wisdom cup and worried when I kept missing the other cups. However, it landed upon the last cup which was creativity.
Immediately, the whole jug and room lit up in a brilliant, fluorescent colored blue. The color was gorgeous and bathed everything. I was thrilled.
Upon waking up, I had mixed feelings. I was elated from the vision of such a rich and beautiful dream. I was relieved that the coin wasn't wasted. I was also sad that I hadn't hit the jack-pot with hitting wisdom right off the bat.
But upon reflection, I was grateful for the insight. One of the most important elements to wisdom is creativity, thinking outside of the box. Creativity seemed to be a stepping stone to wisdom. Knowledge alone isn't enough. Einstein is quoted:
Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all that we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there will ever be to know and understand.
A favorite concept of mine, borrowed from the Buddhists and the Quakers, is to live experimentally. Test ideas and concepts. Don't just take other peoples' words for it. This helps prevent group-think or other social group problems where people often have a piece of the puzzle but are afraid to speak their minds about something.
Another realization that I had was that there are plenty of charlatans - people parading around spouting stuff that sounds good, but for their own purposes. The ego is dominated by such a character. What good is it to attempt to become wise when there is lots of learning, creating and experimenting to be done?
There was a time in my younger adult life where I really wanted to have things figured out, be considered smart or wise, get things right. In the process, I worked very hard to read and become knowledgable about life in an effort to avoid problems. Sometimes that helped. But just as often, I just postponed a real run-in with the concept or idea I was working on.
In this dream, I was given a piece of wisdom. I imagine that others who wish for and dream about wisdom will have their own pieces of the puzzle revealed in their own unique ways that help them grow and develop into mature elders.
My prayer is that our world focus on developing youth and adults interested in true growth and development over a lifetime that supports the best in all of us.
The sky is the limit using our imagination. Our world depends on it.