He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Incipiens Fabula

Endings are ever new beginnings, and challenges are ever new opportunities.  To begin the new story, I will quote something I wrote several years ago while I was nearing the end of one chapter of my life.

Some people spend much of their lives at wit's end, saturated in confusion and fear about the next moment they encounter while moving through the temporal plane.  To live at wit's end is to exist in a state of uncertainty and apprehension.  In a way, to live at wisdom's end is merely the perfection of this state.

When a person lives at wisdom's end, they exist in the same uncertainty that others do.  But their response to it is quite different.  Instead of fear and confusion, there is peace and curiosity.  A serenity is maintained during the process of seeking truth, an immensely valuable process that is never finished.  When one lives at wisdom's end, there is understanding about why we live and acceptance of the reality that one will never have all the answers.  A person who sits at wisdom's end is situated on the blurry spectrum containing reason and love, vulnerable and yet secure, open-minded but not easily swayed.

When you have met yourself without preconception, lived out love for all, and learned to perceive without defining, you have arrived at wisdom's end, and finally found the beginning.

The value of these thoughts was significant, and I appreciate them still today, although admittedly I am a bit older and perhaps wiser than I was at the time.  I would express those thoughts with a bit more nuance and less simplicity were I to attempt a revision, but the past need not be revised and I am content to let my statements stand as a marker on my journey through life showing where I once was and hopefully pointing to the person I wish to become.

When I was a teenager, I made the decision to become a member of the Catholic Church and I prayed very intently for the gift of wisdom during my Confirmation.  It was what I wanted most in life, and like most young people I did not have an inkling of the weighty price that would need to be paid to acquire what I most desired.

As I recall my youth from my current place at the end of it, I remember that when I was in my late teens and early twenties I truly thought that I had found wisdom in its fullness.  I was quite wrong, of course.  I know now that as deep as my wisdom may be relative to the baseline, what wisdom I possess is but a drop compared to the ocean which I do not possess.

Wisdom comes about from suffering, particularly when we learn from it.  Wisdom comes about from joy, particularly when we are grateful for it.  Wisdom comes about from life, particularly when we live it fully.

You may or may not find wisdom here.  I just hope you find it somewhere.