Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Why I Will Be So Wise

One of these days, I'm sure I'll be one of the wisest people I know. It's not because I have any inherent gift for dispensing wisdom, nor is it due to a request by me to the Lord (a la King Solomon) to, more than anything else, grant me wisdom. Nah, the reason I'm going to be so wise - in my own way - is best summed up by one of my favorite quotes, from George Washington: "If we cannot learn wisdom from experience, it is hard to say where it is to be found."

And what, pray tell, is experience? According to Oscar Wilde, "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."
I agree with that, to a point: Mistakes contribute to experience, sometimes are experience, but there is far more to experience than just the mistakes we make. After all, it is not only our mistakes and failures, but our successes, our explorations, our experiments which play a part in creating the experience of life for us.

Do I need to tell this audience that I've made some mistakes? I s
eriously doubt it - sometimes, if there are mistakes I've forgotten, certain of my loyal readers will only too quickly jump up and remind me of them. If you detect a hint of bitterness, be mindful that it is tempered by sweetness. It is a bittersweet reflection, and while I would rather it were butterscotch, every now and then I deserve the ribbing more than a little bit. Unlike others who reap what they sow, I recognize that I'm generally the one planting the seeds.

Blessed with mind, body and soul, I'm often inclined to take actions which embrace the desires of the latter two but which leave the mind struggli
ng to catch up and deal with the consequences later. This is not always the case, but is frequently enough that it deserves an honorable mentioning. I say honorable mentioning, and mean it, because if I hadn't been this way I wouldn't have seen much - or any - of what I've seen, met the people I've met, or gained the experiences and the wisdom that came and still comes from experiencing them.

A couple of days ago, I realized that I have much in common with the character of Mr. Toad from one of my favorite books, The Wind in the Willo
ws. Like Toad, I can be stubborn and impulsive. I can be fickle. I'm adventurous, but not always willing to let the common sense I know I possess guide me. Then again, as you might've guessed from the last sentence in the preceding paragraph, I'm not exactly upset that the comparison with Mr. Toad works.

Toad was all about experiencing life, whatever the consequences - and even those, you can get over. If you don't like one course, there is always another open to you.


"Once, it was nothing but sailing," said the Rat. "Then he tired of that and took to punting. Nothing would please him but to punt all day and every day, and a nice mess he made of it. Last year it was house-boating, and we all had to go and stay with him in his house-boat, and pretend we liked it. He was going to spend the rest of his life in a house-boat. It's all the same, whatever he takes up; he gets tired of it, and starts on something fresh."

"Such a good fellow, too," remarked the Otter reflectively; "bu
t no stability - especially in a boat!"

- from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 1908


I readily acknowledge that this personality trait of mine has helped to create for me more than a few regrets, but you know...they really are too few to mention. My regrets are, by and large, merely questions revolving arou
nd "what might have been", and if I spend too much time on frivolous speculation of what wasn't and thus will never be, I miss gaining insight into what was, which in turn can help me to decide what can be.

If I could sum up my personal philosophy, it would best b
e done by combining the sentiments of the following quote I once saw, "I'd rather be sorry for something I did than for something I didn't do," with those of the entirety of the text of Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken". For having this philosophy, I make no apology - and I don't regret living my life by it one bit. Again, like Washington said,"If we cannot learn wisdom from experience, it is hard to say where it is to be found."

No comments: