We must discover

Jeff and Matt in Washington, DC, April 2005

Jeff and Matt in Washington, DC, April 2005

“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!


  1. MaryAnn

    What a great photo! I love this post & I love you!

    • Thanks, Mary Ann!

  2. Carolyn

    Julia , I am always on the road with you. I don’t know what we would do without friends to go along with us. I will be going in Tuesday for my three month check up. I can’t help but be a little apprehensive. You all take care and let us know how things are going for Jeff right now. Love to all.

    • Carolyn, I will send up special prayers that you get good news on Tuesday. I know how nerve-wracking it can be to wait for the diagnostic reports. We are having some real struggles with Matt and his many challenges, but we’re somehow getting through the days. Jeff is getting discouraged but I keep telling him to hang on and believe there will be brighter days ahead. Love to you and Terry!

  3. If only it was possible to walk in your shoes for one day, to give you relief from the worry and the fear. Then of course this is not possible so I will only say ‘glad to be here’ if only for a wee bit of socializing to distract you from your worries for a tad.

    I think you’re spot on about wisdom. I takes a lot of living to really know a thing or two. But of course when you’re young, you think you do 😀 It’s a bit of a catch 22. Then there are the ones who ‘need’ to make their own mistakes (over and over) and will go out of their way to do the opposite of what you might advise. If it sounds like I have one person in mind, I do. LOL My brother is one tough cookie, there’s no telling the guy anything, he will never change.

    • That hits close to home for me as regards the brother. As for myself, I knew more 30 years ago than I do now! 🙂 But at least that relieves some of my mistaken notion that I need to straighten everyone out. A lot of things from youth I never did have to un-learn, though…such as the therapeutic effects of “a wee bit of socializing to distract from worries.” A lift of the virtual teacup in a toast to that!

      • re: “close to home as regards the brother” THANKS ALOT, baby sister! See if I send you anymore funny animal videos :-p

        • She knows which brother I mean 🙂 but perhaps the other readers don’t, so good call!

  4. Sheila

    Julia, your words ring so true! Just yesterday when I offered our daughter “unsolicited advice” she was quick to say that I really couldn’t walk in HER shoes but I could share her path. There are many footprints with you, our Denton friends. With a prayer, Sheila

    • Thanks so much, Sheila. Although I wrote this post weeks ago, it’s certainly fitting today, as we stand by feeling helpless in the face of Matt’s unhappiness. I appreciate you being here with us with your thoughts and prayers. I will quote my beloved Mr. Rogers here, as he said daily, “You always make each day a special one for me. You know how? By just your being you.” 🙂

  5. Larry

    We all too well know and understand how there are days when we feel helpless. It is good to know though that no matter the day or hour of the night, we are not alone and God above knows our hearts. Be strong and remember that we are even told, Be still and know that I am God. He wants us to come to depend on him and share our hearts deepest thoughts and emotions with him. He alone is able to bear it for us.

    • Thank you Larry. Congratulations on your new granddaughter! We hope and pray that little Sadie is doing well (her Mom and Dad too)!

      • Sadie Fugate was known better by Julia. But I just wanted to say, as only the second so named individual in my acquaintance (I hope to meet her some day), it’s about time the world had another Sadie!

        • Eric, there are actually THREE that I know of! One is the newly-married daughter of our dear friends here in Yorktown. She’s a beautiful young woman, so our grand-niece Sadie is in good company. (Sadie and Grady – was that intentional? :-))


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