Wisdom is a strange word. What does it mean? How do you get it? Where does it come from? How do you use it? Where do you use it? Does it have any value in a world unwilling to heed it? These are the real questions.
After these many decades of living a very unwise, and sometimes wise, life it is okay to expound upon this strange acquired commodity. Is it a virtue or a liability? Does it have value or not? I honestly do not know. However, I do know, by the factual observation of human conduct, what it is and is not.
One can be smart but stupid. One can be brilliant and dangerous. One can be full of statistics and facts but incredibly ignorant. One can be full of information and be totally misinformed. One can be institutionally educated and dumber than a pile of rocks. One can have great authority and power and be entirely misguided and inept. From fatherhood to motherhood, teachers to politicians, kings to presidents the axioms of wisdom versus incompetence apply.
I see wisdom as a product of a variety of things. It is not just a single thing. The recipe lies within three primary ingredients: Caution, patience and hindsight.
Each ingredient is something acquired through experience and self-analysis. Our accomplishments and successes provide us with some elements of perspective; yet, each was/is a result of timing and circumstances as much as real wisdom.
Real wisdom is also acquired by our challenges, adversities, struggles, failures, observations of events and the populous around us, how we have failed in the most profound and personal ways and a rational look into those moments we actually succeeded.
From this honesty comes the acquisition of caution. The ability to avoid too much dependency upon others, the foresight of potential contradictions to the projections of outcomes creates the ability to be cautious. Not overstepping what is possible at the moment is caution.
Taking the time to see, with the diligence of your mind, what can be achieved in its proper time is the essence of patience. And, patience is a matter of astute observation of the events that lead to fruition of that to which you aspire. Patience has its’ jeopardies, however. Patience can lead to hesitation, procrastination and exasperation. The ability to recognize when patience no longer becomes a virtue and has become a liability is the balance one needs in the virtue of patience.
Hindsight can only be achieved in the sequences of time. The human is born with only three primary abilities… to cry, suckle and shit our pants. We are among the most helpless and ignorant creatures on earth at our time of birth. We are a blank sheet of paper. All we know and ever hope to know or comprehend is through the experiences and environment of our lifetime. Each moment and event is scribed upon our cerebral infra-structure and stored in that invisible world of this thing we call ‘Mind’. From this context our minds deduce what is real and not real, what we are and are not, what is possible and not possible, what is of value and what is not, what we will be and not be, what we aspire to be and cannot be, how our moments are lived among others. Every detail and moment of our existence is dictated by the experiences of each moment and how we assemble these moments within our own consciousness.
As I look at these three parts of the recipe my little mind goes to a place of irony. You can probably relate to this as well. It goes like this: if, through the course of human history, we humans actually knew beforehand what we were going to endure in our dreams and pursuits, all the complexities it would actually present, we would probably not have done it. This implies that Ignorance has been the most important ingredient in the course of human events.
If this is true, is ignorance essential to the pursuits of life? Yes. Are the three elements of Wisdom essential as we pursue the activities of life? Yes. Caution, Patience, and Hindsight are the tools that oversee our Ignorance. Perhaps, to a great measure, this axiom is the Essence of Wisdom.