What is Wisdom, Anyway?

My name is Faith. That isn’t the name I was born with, but is, rather, the name I chose.

Am I wise? Some would say yes, but most, I believe, would say no. I am, like most people, a combination of wise elder and wounded child. On any given day the distribution of these attributes can change unexpectedly, with consequent behavioural strangeness being the result.

Despite this I believe I have, as do most people, a deep well of intrinsic wisdom. Of course, the major difficulty is tapping into it without the wounded child chucking a tantrum and rendering all access to wisdom out of reach. And believe me, my wounded child is a powerful little beast even on the best of days.

It was to engage in some inner child healing that I recently purchased a small teddy bear, named Raju. I didn’t choose this name; he had it when I bought it. It is the name of a Sun Bear, one of the latest to have been rescued from a life of misery with a ring through his nose, with the aim of repatriating him into the wild. I bought this little, raggedy teddy bear at my local shopping centre for the princely sum of $16, proceeds of the sale to be donated to the animal rescue organisation. I thought that was a very sweet way to engage in some inner child healing.

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The Thinker

Why is the teddy bear important? Well apparently we can engage in all the therapy and cathartic work we want to in order to heal the adult in the here and now, but none of it means a whole lot if we don’t pay attention to the lost (and usually very angry) wounded child within. Believe it or not, a very powerful way to do that is to engage in the simple act of cuddling a teddy bear. Or so I’m told.

There is an unexpected side effect, however, and, frankly, one I’m annoyed I wasn’t warned about: I now can’t go to sleep unless I’m cuddling that blasted bear. It seems my inner adult and my inner child are having a territorial dispute about ownership of the bear, and I’m not sure if I’ve solved a problem or merely created another one.

What does this have to do with wisdom? Well as I was lying in bed the other night, cuddling Raju and wishing his hair was softer so it didn’t give me a rash under my chin, it occurred to me that oftentimes the simple things can be so powerful, yet we so often overlook them. We live in a world that seems to worship at the altar of the intense, the complicated; simple is often seen as ‘simplistic’, while complicated is often seen as ‘sophisticated’. That’s much sexier, and it’s got to be better, right?

When I was at university I remember being completely impressed by things dark and wild. As a friend of mine said about movies, “If it’s four hours long, in black and white, with subtitles, I’m impressed.”

Me too. Totally. Long, intense discussions in the coffee shop – ok, often the pub too – about the nature of being etc; I’m sure everyone is familiar with the format … if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does that mean the sound doesn’t exist?

(On a side note, I never did really ‘get’ that discussion. Why were they so obsessed with the noise the tree made? Sure, to hear a noise there has to be at least one ear or more nearby yadda yadda yadda … but hang on a minute, I’d say, if there’s no one there how do you know the forest is real, let alone the noise? Then there’s the idea that for a noise to exist there has to be an ear to hear it; but didn’t ears evolve to identify noises that already existed? If things like that were mutually exclusive we’d all still be existing, probably quite happily, as unevolved pond scum. Alright, so I was a sociology student, and psychology, and anthropology and history. I think my major spheres of learning were duelling over this little conundrum. More caffeine please. But I digress …)

The long, the dark, the convoluted. The philosophy class: heaven! Literature, and those Bronte sisters with their Jane Eyres, their Catherines and Heathcliffs, and their ability to cauterise rabid animal bites with a poker from their own fire; the maelstrom of tossing human emotions and tortured self defeating love affairs. We love the process of getting involved in the involved, and we love the tormented. We are taught to love that, and from a very early age. I blame universities and the coffee shops. Simple.

Simple isn’t bad. Simple is good. If there’s a simple answer we should grasp it and not be ashamed of it. I wonder if wisdom is truly the ability to see the simple amongst the complicated; to winnow out all the extraneous chaff that seems so important but really just hides the kernel. The kernel of a head of wheat or other grain is often good, but sometimes it is not, sometimes the seed is bad. In either case it is a gift to be able to identify it.

Namaste _/\_ ✨

Copyright © Faith White 2015

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