I know I've told this story many times before, but when I was about four years old, I decided that I wanted to grow up and be a wise person, and ever since, I have become a wisdom junkie. I started collecting wisdom shared around the dining room table. During parties, the tabke was encircled by the elder women in our family: grandmothers, aunts, cousins, etc. like diamonds around a sapphire. I would sit among the gems, for hours, during parties and just listen to their stories, opinions, and gossip. In high school, I studied Latin because I thought it would bring me closer to The Classics of Western Culture, which I thought embodied true knowledge and absolutely necessary for being wise. Well, I was wrong there on so many fronts. In college, I swung in the opposite direction looking for wisdom among the most marginalized -- believing that I had to go to the places of most abject suffering to gain the truest wisdom. This, of course, is also limiting and basic thinking. Wisdom is actually everywhere within everyone.
Lately, I have been finding myself listening --- not so much around dining room tables, but to podcasts, music, movies, You Tube clips, and other media. Since I spend many hours working with my hands, I have ample time to consume the stories and experiences told by others. What I love about podcasts, in particular, is that they are such an intimate form of media; you can listen to conversations that you might not otherwise encounter in your daily life--especially if you are a hermit, like me.
Through all of this listening, I have gained exposure to contemporary wisdom speakers all around. The prophets are among us, and I am toying with the possibility of collecting, distilling, and sharing what I listen to, read, etc. I'm not sure how that practice would take shape. So, in the meantime, here is a taste of some wisdom being spoken. (By the way, most of these are pretty mainstream wisdom sources).
From her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Dr. Brene Brown (with an accent over second "e", can't figure out how to add via blog) :
A social scientist, Brown studied scads of people who live with their whole hearts and found that they all had these 10 practices in common. From Page 9:
10 Guideposts For Wholehearted Living
1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting go of what people think
2. Cultivating Self-compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
8. Cultivating Calm and Still: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-doubt and "Supposed-To"
10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of being Cool and "Always in Control"
And then there is RuPaul and Oprah. I can't really say more than, just watch and soak up their collective wisdom!
Finally, there is real wisdom in practicing kindness. Don't take it from me, though, take it from Paddington Bear, who manages to find the good everyone one --- even his fellow convicts. If you have a chance and can catch Paddington 2 before it is out of theaters, your life will be enriched and you will leave the theater smiling, dancing, and on your way to make a marmalade sandwich. Check out the preview:
Or, at least, listen to this charming song from movie:
You may have noticed a few drawings inserted throughout the blog. They are from Penelope's Kindness Journal which she just brought home from school. I just saw it this morning and recognized it as a mini-packet of wisdom. What a wonderful idea to practice noticing you are kind. I might have to start doing this. Creating awareness leads to more actions of kindness, and there is no downside to that!
Here's a couple more from her Kindness Journal:
Well, that's a lot of wisdom for one blog post---But, OK, one more song from Paddington 2 that will help you clean your house, guaranteed!
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.