Surely not everyone who reaches an “older” age has been given wisdom. Is this not true?!
What is wisdom? noun =
the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
• the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment: some questioned the wisdom of building the dam so close to an active volcano.
• the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period: the traditional farming wisdom of India. (New Oxford English Dictionary)
Who do you turn to for wisdom? As I get older, I have had to learn to ask others to help me discern when I am facing a choice or a decision in my life. I ask for their wisdom, their presence, their experience. I choose those others carefully. I might ask one friend for their “wisdom” on a relationship question, and I might ask another person when I need guidance about purchasing an appliance, for example.
I turn for wisdom to those I can trust. I am careful, and I know that I have people in my life who can be trusted. What we speak to one another is a carefully guarded jewel. When I speak about my life, I can expect my jewel to be guarded, carefully, by my friend.
And I turn within for wisdom. How do I do this?
For me, the “secret” to life is letting go, surrender, or forgiveness. In my mind, all of these are the same thing. When I “let go” into what is, into that deeper part of myself, I “let go” of my preconceived notions, of my well regarded opinions, of my un-forgiven slights. These are cherished by my smaller self, my ego, to be sure. And my ego does not want to “let go” into the larger whole. My ego is afraid of what it does not know. Who would I be without my well-worn arguments against this person or that? What will happen if I don’t get what I want? How can I let go if it will appear that I am not willing to fight for what I want? How can I let go of my need to be right? How, indeed?
For me, it is wisdom, this letting go. This is the real work of life. I let go into some deeper wisdom, some place deeper than my buzzing mind, my forgotten but cherished memories, my long-held opinions. I let go, and in letting go, I free-fall into a place of trust and wisdom.
I’m not in control in that place. My freedom lies in my letting go, but I don’t want that freedom more than I want my safety net of assurance. That’s what I want: some assurance that I can get what I want, that what I think is right is right, that my cherished view of the world is the only right view of the world. Then, a fight ensues; the fight is with me and my ego, holding on tight. I project the fight “out there,” however. I fight with my neighbor, with my sibling, with my friend.
In nature, one moment gives way freely into the next. This moment has given way to the next, and the next, and the next. There is only this present, this present moment. I see the towhee build its nest, living in that deeper place, trusting, working, letting go.
At this point in my life, I long to be in the presence of those who have this larger view of life. My hope is that these wise ones are changing the world by their presence. I can see, from the vantage point of 6 decades, that all the fighting to be right among human beings has not changed things. Our weapons are more powerful, more potent, more dangerous. We continue to invest in the weapons of war and destruction. We continue to point our finger at “other,” as if “they” are the problem. We continue to imagine that the latest technology will make things better. We want our weapons to save us, when the One who Saves is without weapons, breathing deeply within.
In the meantime, human beings fight over borders, as they have for eons. In the meantime, our leaders are not those who are the bearers of wisdom. In the meantime, people are hungry on this abundant planet. In the meantime, some have so much and others have nothing. In the meantime, people are leaving their homeland, the victims of leaders who will not let go.
And all I can do is to let go, to let go into that place of trust, a place I cannot control.
** To schedule a session with Mary Elyn Bahlert, spiritual guide and coach, call: 510-778-7065.