We must discover
“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” — Marcel Proust
As several readers have pointed out recently, we have many sources from which to seek wisdom. For people of faith, holy scriptures are primary; for all of us, other writings, exemplary lives, history and literature offer additional guidance. But help and guidance from other sources, however trustworthy, are only part of the process.
In library school, we studied the processes by which data becomes information (through meaningful organization of that data) and information becomes knowledge (through meaningful interpretation of that information). Getting from knowledge to wisdom is the hardest part, though. It requires ongoing and diligent application of knowledge, in the context of real-life experience, and it doesn’t happen quickly or by proxy.
Most of us, especially if we are parents, have a hard time standing by and watching others make mistakes that we feel we can warn them against. Sometimes our words are heeded, but often we suffer the painful helplessness of seeing people we care about, messing up their lives in big or small ways we feel they could easily avoid — and sometimes we overstep our boundaries, trying to protect them from the fallout of their errors. (Can you say “co-dependent?”) Of course, others have endured watching us stumble through similar lessons in the school of hard experience.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our best to teach and learn; to spare others the difficult consequences of poor choices or unwise decisions. In the end, though, each of us bears responsibility, on whatever level we are able, for the paths we choose, and the destinations we reach. It takes great faith, hope, endurance and patience — the same traits we want others to show us — to help each other along.
We may be unable to spare others the journey, or take it in their place. But we can do our best to see that they don’t travel all alone. I can’t say it enough: thanks for being with us on this long, uncertain road. We are often discouraged, sometimes afraid, but we know we are never alone!