The wisdom of nature

No matter what your skill level its when you begin, you can get an “A” in this class. My final grade is based on where you began and where you ended up and what is it that you found.*
(Lynda Barry)

understanding and loving are inseparable**
(Erich Fromm)

Lynda Barry is writing about a comic-making class for adults but she could be writing about wisdom.

How wise can we become?

We won’t know until the very end, if our aim is to be lifelong learners:

The root of the word “education” is e-ducere, literally to lead forth, or to bring out something that is potentially present.^

To stop growing in wisdom jeopardises everything: wisdom shapes our worldview but worldview can shape our wisdom. Seth Godin provides a helpful reminder that:

A worldview is the shortcut, the lens each of us uses when we see the world. It’s our assumptions and biases and yes, stereotypes about the world around us.^^

Wisdom isn’t so much what we know but how we live.

Wise lives like public gardens, open to all and taking a lifetime to establish. They don’t contain everything but they do have themes that can be added to.

They are a labour of love, which brings me to Erich Fromm’s words, included by Maria Popova in blog telling the story in the children’s book The Fate of Fausto about a man who wanted to own the world and who meets a watery end.

Believing he now owns flowers and sheep and trees and mountains, Fausto comes to the sea, vast and unbowing. He declares his ownership over the waters but the sea is silent. Fausto rants and the sea eventually asks how Fausto can own something he does not love, that he could not love her if he doesn’t understand her.

Previously, ranting and stamping his feet has got Fausto his ownership way with others, but it marks his demise when he tries to stomp on water.

Wisdom understands that what we know isn’t “it” but is partial and there is so much more to know and also many things we will never know – which is, by the way, another form of knowing.

How can we own? We are the students and nature our teacher:

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it has to tach and not, when I came to die discover that I had not lived.*^

(*From Lynda Barry’s Making Comics.)
(**Erich Fromm, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: The Fate of Faust […].)
(^From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.)
(^^From Seth Godin’s This is Marketing.)
(*^From Henry David Thoreau’s Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.)

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