I imagined that people spontaneously grew wiser as they grew older like trees grew leaves in springtime. But as I’m growing older, I’m finding that wisdom doesn’t simply sprout.
I recognize wisdom when others talk and when I read their wise observations in books. When these insights echo what I’ve experienced, it sounds wise to me. So, it seems that lasting insights are the result of the personal experience of looking at, drawing conclusions and weaving the realizations into one’s own life story. They’re not a gift given for growing older.
I don’t have to look far for opportunities to test my own wisdom. Those closest to me provide frequent sources for reflection. When my grown-up kids call and share what’s happening, I automatically interpret this as an invitation to relate similar tales from my own experience in hopes of helping them circumvent life’s potholes. Wrong. So wrong.
They’re not calling for me to solve their issues. They’re not expecting a mom/guru. And they’re especially not calling for the in-depth analysis that comes so naturally to me. I’ve realized they just want to vent. (Shoulder shrug.) I can’t know the answers for their lives. Sometimes it feels like I’m getting off too easily to just listen. I want to do more.
Sometimes they do ask for my input. When it’s my moment to offer hard-won life-experience wisdom I’m longing to share, I sometimes come up empty or conflicted. How is that possible? I have so much to draw from and a giant willingness to give. But it becomes obvious that they need to discover the best ideas for their own lives. That’s the process. My role is to be there to listen and support.
Simply holding the wish to be of benefit isn’t enough I’ve concluded. Looks like everyone discovers wisdom for themselves, finding their own way. I still wish it was easier, that I could make it easier.
Like a tree grows its own leaves, I can’t grow leaves for them. But I can provide some nutrients in the form of listening, support and space. I just need to be. I don’t need to do. Guess that understanding proves I’m growing a little bit wiser.
Giving by being there,