Sunday, March 15, 2020


ADMINISTRIVIA: I am back from a computer hiatus and will be working to catch up on these. I have two non-Lent related blogs to work in the next two weeks, one on COVID-19, and one in honour of a special birthday. Work is very much up in the air right now, as it is for many of my readers. I have posted and reposted a huge number of COVID-19 memes, many of them side-splittingly funny...I have a strong feeling we won't be joking soon.  

"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad. Philosophy is wondering if ketchup is a smoothie."
--that fount of wisdom, Anonymous

Some days I feel wise. Other days, not so much.

In my life, I have done many, many unwise things, and said even more unwise things, so many that I wince, often, thinking about them. I have hurt people: I am the villain in several stories, and I earned that designation, and I am not proud of it. About the only thing I can say in my defence is (a) I have learned from most of my mistakes and (b) I really don't often make the same mistake twice.

It occurs to me that the wisest things I have done mirror the things that took the most courage. It's a truism that, confronted with two options one of which requires courage, the courageous option is usually the wisest.

Wisdom quotes I live by:

"Shared pain is lessened and shared joy increased" -- Spider Robinson
--I've been living this and sharing it for almost thirty years. Corollary: "If you share your hurt and I share my hurt, somehow we end up with less than half a hurt apiece."

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."--Robert A. Heinlein
Heinlein was a Grand Master of science fiction, friend and mentor to Spider Robinson, and one of history's greatest iconoclasts. Even if you disagree with him, and there is lots to disagree with him on, he forces you to define why. Heinlein taught me a great deal of what I know about critical thinking.

I can't do all these things. Or at least I haven't. But it's definitely a principle I believe in.

"If you don't know how to say something right, say it wrong. Then at least you'll have something to edit." --Ken Breadner, Sr.

My dad is a pretty quiet man, known more for his practical jokes than his profundities. He said this to me one day when I was in my early teens and the wisdom in it damn near bowled me over. I've never forgotten it, and I will warn you I'm about to say something "wrong".

“[Happiness] could be accomplished by a shift in priorities that involves accepting less prosperous lifestyles, and embraces rich personal, intellectual, and social lives as substitutes for, or even improvements on, the material extravagance that the industrial nations currently offer their more favored inmates.”--John Michael Greer

I could have picked any number of Greer quotes. To me, he is a worthy successor to Heinlein in that he forces you to articulate why you disagree with him.
I used to be extremely materialistic. Through my twenties, I spent money as if it was on fire, almost entirely on meaningless stuff. I would much rather have experiences now...and experiences don't have to cost much, or anything.

"Oh, you don't actually think I BELIEVE this, do you?" -- Eva Breadner
I can't even remember what "this" was. But the point is that it doesn't matter. Eva can argue all sides of anything, so passionately that it can be impossible to determine what she really thinks. She has done more than anyone else to loosen my mind, which used to be stuck in any number of ruts.

"It doesn't have to be virtual to be real" -- Kathy Morris

She wasn't the first person to tell me I didn't have to share everything, but she was the most persuasive. Those words of hers cut through my own love/hate relationship with the internet and exposed many actions for what they were: self-serving and destructive. The opposite of a Great Truth is often another Great Truth, and while "shared pain is lessened and shared joys increase", sometimes sharing is misinterpreted, and there can be great fulfillment in living life quietly and happily.

Knowledge is often loud and strident. Wisdom is usually quiet. Knowledge is constantly changing, wisdom is eternal. I'll take wisdom over knowledge any old day.

1 comment:

pamala palz said...
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