Discovering Wisdom

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster, they have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by evil or commonplace that prevailed round them. They represent a struggle and a victory.“ — Marcel Proust

Wisdom is drawn from experience. We all think we have the world figured out when we’re younger, then realize that we knew nothing as we accumulate experience. What we forget, sometimes, is that someday we’ll look back on today as our younger self too. We all know closed-minded people at any age, assured in their beliefs, blinders on to new ideas and influences. We must avoid becoming so closed ourselves. We must remain an open book, gathering what we may in our brief time.

We learn the ebb and flow of life, the things in our control and that for which we have no say in the matter. It’s easy to see where we’ve been by how others are navigating that particular obstacle in their own lives. Likewise, we might benefit by turning our gaze ahead to learn how to handle the next stage in our own development. If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that others have been where we’re heading before us. Wisdom is learned through experience, but that experience doesn’t always have to be ours.

Life is a series of struggles and victories experienced over time. We never have it all figured out, but we just might accumulate enough street smarts to navigate the highs and lows that greet us each day. The view changes over time, and the lessons keep coming. And there we may find that evasive wisdom.

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