Words from the Wise

The wisest eighteen year old I’ve ever known once told a group of rapt listeners, sitting at his feet Socrates style, that being eighteen was a lot like being . . . thirteen. I’d expected him to say seventeen. We anticipate the wisdom which reminds of that we’ve actually only aged another day, not the year children picture passing in the time from midnight till they wake up on their birthday. The disappointment and bewilderment was palpable as the seventeen years olds grappled with the loss of the magical transition they’d anticipated.

My surprise turned to wonder and joy. “He gets it.” I love when they (teenagers) get it, when they get anything. But that was when I was 29. And now I revisit the wisdom to share that 41 is a lot like thirteen too. And I’m a little disappointed and bewildered at the lack of the mysterious transformation I’d been looking forward to.

We gain guru status slowly, haltingly, and sometimes we lose our followers. It’s pretty difficult to be wise enough that everything we say sounds profound all the time. And if the wisdom we spout is tinged with disillusionment, well I don’t blame them for going—it’s a bummer.

But I remember wise people who’ve participated in my life. I have my favorites depending on my moods and my circumstances. I reflect on what they’ve taught me. Once in a while. Today I’ll think of them more and appreciate thinking of them more. I’ve had wisdom shared in my life. Praise the Lord for the good people he’s sent to fascinate me and to impart a bit of what they’ve learned.

When it’s my turn to share a bit with someone, will I have it ready? Will I be in the right place in my mind to dispense the nugget they’ll remember? Or will I be worrying about the way the seam in my sock is rubbing against my toes?

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