“The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.”*
Wisdom is more than knowing, it is about living. Epicurus’ defining of a fool, above, allows us to see foolishness can mean many things but not acting upon them. This kind of wisdom then becomes our capacity to deal with complexity.
After reading this, Philip Newell catches my attention when he writes:
‘One of the primary features of the rebirthing of God is reconnecting with wisdom, allowing the truth that has been etched into our being to come forth in new ways. This reconnection will happen through a journey into the forgotten and unknown depths of our own soul and traditions.’**
Whilst Newell is a minister in the Church of Scotland and his focus and concern is for the maturing of the Christian faith, he gives expression to the possibility for those who are not religious continually develop and rebirth their worldview, whatever that be.
However, it’s the next part of his statement that is of particular interest. When we go down into what George Appleton names “the deeps of my being,”^ we find we are less foolish than we think. We know a lot of things, a lot of things we can act upon – which is what wisdom is about.
‘I just wanted to do it! It was an internal drive that I couldn’t ignore.’^^
What Chris Guillebeau is describing here is what lies in the deeps of every person if they could find there way there. The problem is in noticing. Other voices, needs, demands distract us from travelling to this place in ourselves.
Frans Johansson would say we need a strategy:
‘The purpose of strategy […] is not to find the right answer, because you will be wrong anyway. The purpose of the strategy its to move us to act.’*^
Maybe we don’t act because we want to get it right straightaway, or in the gaze of others. Johansson is saying, though, that it’s far more important to be moving than getting it right the first (second, or third) time. John Ortberg aligns with this when he remarks:
‘It’s better to go through the wrong door with your best self thank the best door with your wrong self.’^*
It’s about movement, and movement at our natural speed is the best way of thinking about this. This can feel like a resurrection, a coming to life, and I offer this thought in an Epicurean way:
‘Peregrination was sometimes described as “seeking the place of one’s resurrection,” leaving the familiar in order to experience new birth, dying to boundaries and securities of home to be alive to what one had never imagined before.’**
Peregrination or walking is a useful metaphor because it requires that we take only the necessary things from the journey. Necessary then is interesting. Beyond the essentials everyone might take for their walk, each will have different things they feel necessary for their walk. I came across an exercise from Bernadette Jiwa that ties in helpfully here. Jiwa is offering an empathy exercise in the form of “Notice what she carries” drawing four quadrants, filling each in as the things necessary to the journey are reflected upon:⁺
I suggest four labels four the quadrants which come from the Jesuits, as these suggest an inward and outward journey.
I offer this as a means of reflecting on what you find in the deeps or truth etched into your being:
What are you most aware about yourself: your talents, passions, learnings?
How have you been most imaginative and creative when it comes to doing something with these things – your experiments, even if these have failed?
Who have you shared these things with, as a means of love?
Where have you been most heroic (selfless), standing up for something that matters to you and changing something?
(*Epicurus, quoted in Maria Popova’s BrainPickings: A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind.)
(**From Philip Newell’s The Rebirthing of God.)
(^George Appleton, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(^^From Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit.)
(*^From Frans Johansson’s The Click Moment.)
(^*From John Ortberg’s All the Places to Go.)
(⁺From Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)