Wouldn’t it be great if we could Google wisdom? Order it up like Chinese take-out, delivered to our doorstep in 30 minutes or less. What if we could snap our fingers and know all that life has to teach us without all the messy fumbles and failures that are often the best teachers? There’s a saying my mom used to say: mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo, “the devil knows more because of being old than because of being the devil.” It seems life experience that comes with age, not position, is what matters.
So just how does one acquire wisdom? Or better yet, prudence? In my experience it goes something like this: First, you begin without knowledge. Then you gather some experience which leads you to knowledge. When you have enough of that knowledge you develop wisdom. And when you practice enough wisdom it leads to prudence. So if that’s the roadmap, just how do you go about getting started in the right direction?
It’s impossible to be wise without having lived through some things. That’s why I try to seek wisdom beyond my years. What I mean is that I try to look ahead and find others who’ve already walked the road I’m walking or about to walk and try to learn from their experiences. For example, as a new grandmother I know that there’s a lot I don’t know so I go to a friend who has already been there to get what I don’t have. If I want to know about marriage, I find a couple who’ve been together for 30 or so years and ask them ‘how do you do it?’
I look for people who’ve had success, people who’ve managed to deal with certain situations with wisdom and prudence. Like a business would choose a board of directors, I seek out those I trust. In my life there is a core group of wise men and women that I look to for direction. I take the lessons they teach so that I can then apply prudence. So while I haven’t yet dealt with a moody teenage grandson or the hurdles of retirement, there are those in my life who have and managed to do so successfully. And they, in turn, have lent me the lessons they’ve learned so I can have knowledge that exceeds my experiences and wisdom beyond my years.