January 12 – Wisdom

“Knowing thyself is the height of wisdom.” (Socrates)

When I think of wisdom, the image of a sage, older person bestowing the benefits of experience onto another person comes to mind. Or, I think of the story of Solomon, discerning between two difficult choices as a third party observer. I may even conjure up the concept of Socrates imparting his knowledge to Plato and his other students. The dictionary definition of wisdom is having or showing  experience, knowledge and good judgment.

In this quote, Socrates tells me that if I want to be wise, I must know myself. I must have knowledge, not just of the world around me, but of me. To be wise, I must take my own knowledge and experience, understand when I have judged well or poorly in the past, and then bring all of that to bear on my life as it is today. Only when I have done all this can I consider that I have some kind of wisdom.

This journey through the inspirational quotes has already caused me to be more introspective. I think that a year from know I will certainly know more about myself than I ever have. And yet, I still don’t think I will have hit the “height of wisdom”. Like so many other things in life, wisdom is a journey and not a destination.  I will become wiser through the years, but the moment that I sit back and say to myself “well, I am wise now”, I will immediately slip from whatever height of wisdom I have reached.

If knowledge is a lifelong pursuit, then knowledge of myself is an even more complex lifelong pursuit. I think it will be interesting to me to come back to this quote around this time next year and see how my thoughts about it have evolved.

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