Thoughts: On Wisdom

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From time to time a reader will comment on my wisdom. I know it is meant as a compliment, but the very thought scares me to death.

You see, people used to think that of me, years and years ago. I was the young guy with the old soul. I was put in positions of authority and leadership because I was perceived as wiser than my years. People came to me for advice. I didn’t really get it then, but I ran with it. In time, I began to believe my press.

And of course, that is when things blew up in my life. I certainly did my part, but so did others and me, and in all my supposed wisdom, never saw it coming. Looking back, with a few years of therapy and more than a decade distance, I say to myself, “How did I miss all that? I should have seen that coming.” So much for the whole wise thing. I was blind-sided to the point that it’s taken years and years to restore myself, and any confidence in my own judgment.

No, don’t call me wise. I am very uncomfortable with that moniker. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with it again. I have this superstitious feeling that as soon as I accept that it even MIGHT be so, something will come from my blind side and run over me like a steam roller with spikes. Every time someone calls we wise, I get that deer in the headlights feeling and start looking around to see what’s going to hit me and from where.

What I am, is thoughtful. I think on things. I turn them over and over.

What I am, is a watcher. I watch myself and the people all around me. I don’t judge (something else I am afraid of.). I just look and learn and try to find the patterns in what I am seeing.

What I am is a searcher, trying to make sense of things. When I write stuff, I am not pontificating. It’s just me talking out loud saying “this is where I am now.” The unwritten follow up is “subject to change.”

Because even at 61, I change my mind sometimes. I learn more. I see more. People reveal more. Stuff challenges my so-called wisdom all the time and I have to adjust.

That’s not to say I don’t have a core. I do. Regular readers know I have a few themes that show themselves again and again. Restoration. Grace. Moving forward even when we can’t see what’s ahead. Faith (which is pretty much moving forward when we can’t see what’s ahead.), My battles with depression. Love. It’s a pretty short list, and at times, may become boring. And in writing of these things, I may come across as knowing something.

I don’t know squat. i believe some things, but mostly I feel like I am still figuring it out. I don’t trust my knowing very much. I’ve been pretty much taught that lesson in humbleness. Even as a pastor, I tend to preach to myself more than anything else.

My kids will tell you, I talk to myself a lot. And that is what my writing is, and that is what my preaching is, a middle-aged man talking to himself and letting you in on the conversation.

Why let you in? Why let you see my vulnerabilities, fears, and struggles (as well as the occasional burst of joy and passion.)?

As the product of an alcoholic family, I was (as it typical of the breed) taught NOT to share too much. To keep my life to myself. To keep my struggles and faults to myself.

That didn’t work out too good for me. It sat inside and festered and was a part of my coming undone. I do better it seems, letting it out. And at times, I have learned, that letting out of my own stuff can help others. Because we’re all struggling with stuff. We all have our battles. And not being alone is the strongest weapon in our arsenal of beating back our demons and becoming more of what we want to be.

But it’s not wisdom. At least I don’t think so. It’s just one guy’s journey. One who has learned wisdom, for me at least, is dangerous stuff.

Never believe your own press. Believe your heart.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

6 thoughts on “Thoughts: On Wisdom

  1. HENRI NOUWEN SAID..”GO OUT OF SELF..ITO PRAYER…THEN OUT TO OTHERS” I FIND WHEN I FORGET SELF I SEE OTHERS MORE DEARLY. SEE THINGS MORE CLEARLY ..LOVE IS NOT LOVE UNTIL WE GIVE IT AWAY….MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT BE YOUR GUIDE….BEATITUDE ATTITUDES GIVE US AMAZING GRACE….ALL THE BEST…..BERNICE THORSON LEMON

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your journey, Tom.
    Your writing brings a sense of calm to my days…….

  3. I understand your reluctance to be labelled “wise”. But wisdom can be relative. Your compassion, personal knowledge and insights may spark moments of heightened awareness in others who look for ways to explain your ability to express what you observe, your generosity in sharing, and their current state. I think that the mistake is when those of us who read then believe that the artist is practiced at applying the insights they so beautifully express. I always find something lovely in your work. Thank you.

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