"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us."
— Marcel Proust
Wouldn’t it be pure delight if we had magic wands, or at the very least knew someone with a magic wand? Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we awoke one morning filled to the brim with wisdom, self-love, compassion & empathy, you know, without all the struggling, breath by breath trudging through the muck? Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone else could take this journey for us, at least on some days? Wouldn’t it be incredible if somehow we possessed the power to spare those we loved dearest from the parts of their journey that break their, and our, hearts into a million pieces?
Or would it?
Luckily, we do not reside in Utopia. There are no short cuts to wisdom. Wisdom is the direct result of lessons hard learned, of blood, sweat, tears and more than a few dark days. Wisdom is that pot of gold on the other side of a rainbow that is frequently made up of stripes of varying degrees of greys, blacks, and whites rather than brightly illuminated colors.
How might we ever understand, or even recognize, wisdom, without all those painful experiences, without all the times of falling smack dab onto our faces? What would there be to be wise about? I talk a lot about the importance of painful experiences and I do so because I believe so firmly in this basic truth; pain and struggle are critical components to human development, and somewhere along the line we forgot this truth. We live in a culture obsessed with quick fixes and millions of ways to continue hitting the snooze button on our lives. We reside in a space filled with deflections, distractions, rationalizations and excuses.
I see parents frequently doing everything within their powers to block their children (including their adult children) from the natural consequences of their choices, of their behaviors. Their hearts are 100% in the right place. They don't want their kids to grow into adults who are fundamentally unable to own their own journeys, their own lives. This is, never the less, frequently the result. We must find the courage to love one another so deeply that we are willing to step out of the way and watch them run straight into that wall. When we shield ourselves, or our loved ones, from the inevitable painful experiences of, well, living, we deny ourselves, and them, the beautiful opportunity to develop strength of character and forward motion. We stunt their growth, and ours. We give, consciously or unconsciously, the message “what ever you do…do not feel. Do not fall. Do not get messy”
Expecting wisdom devoid of the experiences required to attain it is no different than expecting to step off the elliptical/treadmill after 2-3 workouts expecting to be in great shape. Getting physically healthy requires dedication, discipline & oh yeah…patience. It is breath by breath, step by step, day in, day out, sweat, pain (and maybe a few really great cuss words). It is TIME + showing up. It is a journey no one can take for us. It is a journey we cannot take for anyone else. Wisdom is the muscle of the soul.
I would not exchange one single painful experience I have lived through for all the money in the world. And as I take a deep breath I would also add that IF someone approached me with a magic wand & claimed they could wave it over me and guarantee that I never again experienced darkness, suffering and struggle again I would smile and then walk on. Ok I would definitely pause for a moment, but then I would walk on. Because at the end of the day I know this to be true; as much as I may grumble and flail about in the midst of the storm…what lies on the other side has always enriched me in ways too profound to express. Always.
And this is also true; while we cannot spare another their journey, we absolutely can, and must, show up for each other with this simple message…”I cannot fix this for you, or take your suffering away, but I can sit with you, and hold your hand. I can try and make you laugh. I can join you in your pain until it passes.”
So here's to YOUR journey. Embrace it. Dig deep, lean in and resist the temptation to hit the snooze button just one more time. See that teeny tiny speck of light shimmering off in the far distance and recognize it as hope for all that is to be, for all you are to become.
Wisdom awaits you…but first…
Peace & Love Always