October 9. “Wisdom is knowledge which has become a part of one’s being.” (Orrison Swett Marden)
I have always thought of wisdom as being that special body of knowledge that one gains only through experience. I can study and read and observe others, but I can’t gain in wisdom until I have actually lived through something. This quote makes me think a little further on take.
For wisdom to grow I have to do more than just live through and survive a situation. The knowledge I gain in that experience has to somehow become a part of who I am. I could take it a step further and say that it has to change me in some way. Or, to put it succinctly it has to “become a part of one’s being.”
Before our oldest was born, my wife and I knew very little about parenthood. We had both watched our parents raise us and our siblings, we’d both been babysitters from time to time, and I even had older siblings with children to act as role models. We had some knowledge, but no real experience. Having never been parents, we had no idea what we were in for. When our daughter came into our lives, we were thrust headlong into parenthood. We learned, made mistakes, learned some more, and made new mistakes. What we thought we knew about children changed and developed over time, as we learned that we initially knew nothing.
When our other children came along, we continued to learn and grow. With each new addition to the family, new challenges emerged. They all progressed from being toddlers, to preschoolers, through grade school, and more. With each new phase came new challenges, new issues, and new lessons.
Had my wife and I merely survived all those changes, we would not have grown in wisdom. It is only because we have changed, adapted, and changed again that we can claim even a small morsel of wisdom. Only because the knowledge and experience changed us did wisdom emerge.
Now, I do not consider myself to be particularly wise. Perhaps it is because I have this mental image of a wise person being one who is advanced in age, with grey hair on the temples who imparts life lessons to…wait a second. Darn it!
All kidding aside, I really don’t think of myself in that way, but at some level, this quote would imply that my wife and I have attained a certain level of wisdom. We have been changed by our knowledge and experience, and that knowledge has, indeed, become a part of our being.
Today my reflection is on how the things I have, and continue to learn in life have become a part of my being. The more that I allow my lived experience to continue to shape who I am, the more wise I become.