“There is no man, however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived a life, the memory of which is so unpleasant to him that he would gladly expunge it. And yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man. . . . unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded. . . . We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.” ~ Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time …
Most of us have wished for things to be a bit easier at some point in our lives–that the mistakes and regrets of our past, and the difficulties of the present, might simply be gone. But we are wrong for wishing such a thing… on ourselves, or on anyone for that matter. We all need adversity in our lives. For no matter how hard we try to develop our understanding from the gathered knowledge of others, we most likely will fail to apply it in our lives time and time again. Just as a seed scattered loosely upon the ground, wisdom will fail to take root in the soil of our souls without us getting our hands a bit dirty. <!–more–>
The adversity we face in our lives is the catalyst for most of our growth. We need difficulty, and perhaps even trauma, to grow, to develop, and to reach the highest levels of our being. It changes the way in which we look at things, often times acting as a filter to provide more clarity in our lives. It reveals our hidden abilities and unlocks our true potential. It provides for us a path to greater confidence and acts as a conduit for positive change. It makes us look critically at our lives, and then more clearly define the level of importance for each of the things that we fill it with.
There is no recipe for wisdom; we each must discover–or perhaps uncover–it for ourselves in our lives. And as time goes on, if we are attentive to it, perhaps we will find that we have gained wisdom from our past “fatuous or unwholesome incarnations” and have come out with a better understanding and perspective of the world as a result–or a reflection–of the wisdom that has blossomed within us. Such wisdom is the key to overcoming the adversities we are faced with, and most importantly, to living our lives with purpose and meaning and enriching our experience here on Earth.
Reflect insightfully upon some of the mistakes of your past.
Questions to consider:
How do you tend to grow in wisdom? How might you make yourself more receptive to such wisdom?
Why is it tempting to feel that we can “receive” wisdom? Why does this wisdom seldom take root?
How would you describe the “point of view from which you regard the world?”
For further thought:
“Wisdom is not to be obtained from textbooks, but must be coined out of human experience in the flame of life.” ~ Morris Raphael Cohen, Portrait of a Philosopher