I recently wrote a paper for a class I will be attending in California next week titled “Wisdom & the NEW Civilization”. The assignment was to write an essay on what the pursuit of wisdom means for me. I haven’t really written for so long, I forgot how cathartic the process of writing can be. I decided to share the paper in the same form it was turned it in to the professors. Please share any thoughts this paper brings up for you.
In writing this paper, I discovered the metaphor of a river to describe where I am in my pursuit of wisdom. I had an experience of nearly drowning in a river a few years ago, and I was surprised to find a parallel between the external experience and my current internal life experience. I have gained much clarity about this parallel through writing about the pursuit of wisdom, at least in part, through the powerful river metaphor. Thank you for this opportunity and learning experience.
First, what does wisdom mean to me? Wisdom is being awake and aware, being present, acknowledging there are unseen forces inter playing with our existence, using the knowledge from life experiences to aid in discernment, and using lessons from our ancestors to help guide the future. These main concepts affect all parts of life, so perhaps the pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of life.
Why pursue wisdom? If I choose not to pursue wisdom, I will live my old life and get lost in the mundanity of everyday mainstream life. I can go to work 40 plus hours per week, be stressed, and worry about the worst-case future scenarios I have created in my mind. I can delude myself into believing I control external circumstances through working hard. Then through the hard work, I can earn more money to accumulate material possessions and pay to protect them. I can live within the hypnosis of society that says to accumulate material possessions and to elevate your career status is to be successful and happy; to be overly busy and stressed out is a status symbol; and to put your needs last somehow benefits others. I can choose to do all of these things to fit into the mainstream and not risk being an outlier. I can believe that to be in the mainstream means you are not alone. To choose not to pursue wisdom is to choose a dissatisfied life and in essence to not choose life.
Fortunately, I was awakened in my old life and I chose to pursue a meaningful and satisfying life and thus, wisdom. Upon awakening, I discovered I had been following the course of the mainstream and had worked hard to prevent the very situation I found myself in – alone and my material possessions at risk due to personal and financial losses in my life. Thus, the greatest lesson of my life was born. The rules I had been playing by lost all credibility. When you blindly follow the course of the mainstream, you can lose yourself or even be drowned in the current and you can forget where you were trying to head in the first place.
At that point in my life, I began my pursuit of wisdom. Self-help books, books on consciousness, Law of Attraction, quantum physics, shamanism, and others became my new teachers. I felt like I was being liberated by opening my mind to new concepts, especially the idea that my thoughts were creating my reality. I decided that if I am the one creating my life, then I was going to create a life that represents who I am and what I want. The funny thing was, I had no idea what that might look like. My life needed to be reset so I could be open to all possibility. I sold my house and most of my material possessions and eventually resigned from my engineering job and headed south in my motorhome with my dog. This began my quest for finding my life purpose and having complete faith it would find me. It was such a radical change and I vowed to never blindly follow the mainstream course again.
Three years have already passed since driving away from my old life. I could not have imagined then where my life would be today. I have floated down some uncharted side channels the old me would never have considered. Tuning more deeply into my inner voice, I have followed most of the cues and returned to my hometown of Butte, Montana, after nearly 20 years of living elsewhere. I have a private medical-support hypnotherapy practice, I have been reunited with my first boyfriend from 30 years ago and we have come to believe we are meant to be together to help each other heal. My pursuit of wisdom continues.
I have not used “pursuit of wisdom” to describe the current focus of my life, but it sure fits. I am in a constant state of learning in my life as I live with more awareness. I am more aware of my thoughts, emotions, and habits, and I am more accepting of myself. This has come through the teachers, experiences, and desire for change I intended with my fresh start, all of which are part of the pursuit of wisdom.
In my hypnotherapy practice, my clients mirror issues I am having with myself or my life. My practice is one of my greatest classrooms with my clients being my greatest teachers. Sometimes I wonder if they only knew how much I gleaned from my experiences with them, they would start charging me! Perhaps a big part of wisdom is realizing that life is all about healing thy self. Therefore, the pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of life which is the journey of healing thy self.
Some traditions say the process of healing is a process of remembering. Wisdom has taught me that sometimes to remember, we have to first dismember. Dismemberment is a process of letting go of what we thought we knew and believed and is typically brought on by a major loss or challenge. The letting go can be outside of our control and can be as painful as a physical dismemberment. With wisdom, one can discern the best choices and practices for one to remember. Discernment is a practice and requires stillness. Stillness requires getting out of the mainstream and resting in the soft eddies. Discernment also includes recognizing when it is time to let some of the current of life tug at you to pull you back into the flow of life.
The pursuit of wisdom takes me into deep contemplation often, and I no longer tolerate mundane conversation. The perception of loneliness has crept into my awareness as I no longer fit in with mainstream socializing. I tend to spend a lot of time alone in the quiet eddies, sometimes judging myself for not fitting in. I listen for the voice of wisdom to overshadow any self-judgment and instead shine a light on my courage to be myself. Wisdom is still teaching me about acceptance and authenticity.
As I now allow myself to rest in the eddies, I find resistance to reenter the mainstream. It is much more comfortable to rest. How this attitude fits into the mainstream of business and financial prosperity still eludes me. It is part of the pursuit – how to incorporate beneficial elements of the mainstream to allow prosperity in my life while not being drowned by the swiftness and strength of the current. How do I leave the restfulness of the eddy?
Wisdom has taught me what is important and helped me release my attachment to materialism. Now part of my pursuit of wisdom is how to dwell as an outlier in a materialistic disconnected culture without letting the perception of loneliness squash my pursuit of wisdom. I fear leaving the eddy and getting caught in the mainstream again. The fear itself holds me back from fully healing myself and stalls my pursuit of life. Can’t I just find community in the eddies and bump along the shore to experience new side channels and eddies? Do I have to periodically cross the mainstream to experience the lessons and treasures on the distant shores? Are some elements of the mainstream okay and even beneficial?
In the pursuit of wisdom, life, and healing, it is the experience of love that is the carrot driving the effort. Loving thy self and everyone and everything and sharing the love through relationships is the end goal in my pursuit. Wisdom has taught me that love and relationships are the treasures of life. Love is also the most challenging area of my life. I suppose if love were easy, it would not be as valued, as it is the most rare beautiful things in life that we cherish the most.
My closest relationships are with people who are riding the mainstream and are interested in the eddies and side channels, but their fears are too great to leave the current. We hold hands while I stay along the shore and in the eddies, and sometimes we lose each other while the strong current pulls them out and I hold onto the shore or take a side channel. So far, we do come back together, sharing our observations and experiences. Perhaps this is its own form of wisdom, bringing the two perspectives together.
I think I’m going to have to start edging out once again, surrendering somewhat to the flow of the mainstream. However, it almost drowned me last time. How do I take the risk of swimming in the mainstream again? How do I make sure I can see the shore and the side channels and all they have to offer? How do I make sure I can float and guide my sails in the direction of my intentions without getting swamped by the waves in the mainstream? It scares me so much to reengage. The discovery of being lost in my adult life while not being aware of the process of becoming lost scares me. Can wisdom be counted on to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself? Can wisdom allow me to surrender to the current, allowing it to pull me into the mainstream without drowning? Can wisdom give me the faith to continue plotting my own unknown course versus jumping back into the mainstream thus risking drowning or getting lost again? I know deep down I prefer the adventure of unexplored channels and resting in the eddies, but I need the courage and wisdom to stay this course. I am hoping to gain more insight on how to move forward in my life’s journey through the experience of Wisdom and the New Civilization.