First off, for my many good friends and handful of truly exceptional foes, I’ve been turning over appropriate topics for what the world is going through right now. First thing: Judging by my own experience and having read 10 to 20 times the political bullshit that I usually read, I promise this is going to be a non-political essay. For the love of God, if you haven’t made your mind up by now…there’s something wrong with you. Living in this country you have one duty…and that is to go out and vote…for whomever you truly think will do the best job.
And now to an increasingly large slice of the pie that is Mature America, some of whom are also Wise America. Again, NOT talking politics…promise.
Wisdom: What the hell is it? Sometimes we’ll see a toddler on TV who espouses wonderful kernels of wisdom, but when the kid pees in his diaper or farts and giggles we know that someone has put words in his mouth. But then, for large handfuls of the fortunate ones, the ones with silver hair…or perhaps no hair, the ones who have been through hell and back, who have survived loss of loved ones, bouts with cancer, devastating circumstances, the human entities who remain and can still smile, still see the big picture, they are the ones with what I think of as wisdom.
I really wonder what it would be like if you could bequeath your wisdom to your children or your younger friends, or anyone, for that matter, but you can’t. There’s some block in the younger mind that prevents it. Truly. I am cursed with vivid memories of attempting to save my mom from the realities of increasing age and infirmity. And I vividly remember her smiling at me without malice…and my not understanding.
Wisdom: Sadly, you can’t steal the cheat-sheet, scan it, memorize it and become suddenly wise. Believe me, I have tried it fifty different ways and it just doesn’t work. To quote my son, “Yeah Dad………But….” And that’s about how we all are. Things just don’t compute.
Recently and over and over recently, Pam and I take the golf cart down to this new and weirding area of our property, loosely called the sculpture park. Almost every time we go, there’s a car parked on the property and a couple or couples wandering among the sculptures. We coast down and wave. They wave back. I have white hair. There’s silver or some shade of grey and there’s a funny thing. There is no tension. There is no malice. Seriously so. We greet total strangers. A look passes among us and decades worth of bullshit are instantly put aside. Barriers drop quietly, invisibly and I begin to feel like Pam and I are in an episode of Star Trek where the old codger beings that Kirk and Spock were sent to protect, become bored and wave away the monsters or Klingons that are about to attack.
Many of us don’t see any of those in power as particularly intelligent. Truly so. Part of wisdom comes directly from experience. Wisdom occurs when one truly learns the correct lessons from experience. It’s that simple. And the lessons truly are that simple. Pain, fear and the resulting anger (fear is the mother and father of anger) cause reaction and for the inexperienced that reaction is often deadly.
Freedom to speak candidly: When you’re eight or eighteen or twenty eight or forty-eight, you must choose your words carefully, lest you offend or misrepresent. When you’re a few years older, despite all the horrible things that attack your body, if you’re lucky, a day arises and you realize what it’s all about. Unfortunately, there’s no short-cut…there just isn’t. Believe me, I’ve tried, diligently so.
Freedom to speak candidly…Part Two: A little clue: You can’t shock a person of wisdom. You really can’t. Just try it. You’ll be amazed. No matter what shocking thing you might say, they have already heard it before and worse. That is wisdom, having been through the entire gamut of shock, elation, despair, and revelation. We’ve been there.
At this point, a decision is made, consciously or unconsciously. We learn graciousness, empathy, a sense of deep and profound humor about the reality of life…OR…we begin to wilt and go sour, bitter, and hopeless. It is our choice and within each of our capacities to choose.
To go back to an old best literary friend: Desiderata, (haven’t read it? It is superlative) you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees or the stars, and whether or not, it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding……as it should. ( I can quote this long poem from memory.) The bottom line is both heartening and very sad. You and I are, indeed, children of the universe. We are the stuff of stars. We are literally star dust. And sooner or later, we will return to being the stuff of stars. But what you and I do here on this weird little planet while we’re here…THAT is the thing. Leave this campground a little better from your having lived here. Desiderata: Watch and perhaps learn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yNJaKF9sXA