Tuesday, April 7, 2009


“I will never drink again”, words amplified by the porcelain bowl in front of my face. Wisdom is hard won. Wisdom comes with experience. There are not too many wise teenagers.

I don’t think it was our actual family motto growing up, but I know the guiding principle for how I was raised was “sink or swim”. It was the getting of wisdom. Each of us kids can tell stories of venturing out into the world somewhat unprepared. Through the adventures and the inevitable adversity we gained invaluable life lessons that we still all apply today – and are passing on to our kids, whether they like it or not!

I want wisdom. I mean who doesn’t. But in my experience it’s usually only discovered in hindsight. The best I can do is put myself in a place where it’s more likely to be acquired. The places for me where wisdom is found are those where my core beliefs are challenged, where my fears are faced, where I am asked to decide between right and wrong. I don’t really like those places – but am drawn back to them over and over.

There’s knowledge and then there’s wisdom. I like the idea of knowledge. I can acquire it in the comfort of my own home. It doesn’t have to be applied, I can just accumulate it. I can talk about it and even sound smart. But, knowledge will only take me so far. It’s important, but only in so much that it can be converted into wisdom.

I have found that wise people tell stories more than they quote books. I have also observed that true wisdom is always just beyond my grasp. It’s learning and re-learning. Doing and re-doing. Failing and trying again. The wisdom equation for me is knowledge plus risk.

I will never, ever forget being off the continent for the first time at 18, alone and scared in my hotel room in the Dominican Republic. The phone rings, its my dad saying he just wanted to see how I was doing “Dad, I am so scared” and I started to cry. “that’s ok son, you’ll do fine” and he hung up. I did do fine, and thus began my journey with wisdom.

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