I think to myself how would I describe wisdom if I were asked? I understand how vague that term has become, but still, if I were asked to define what that word means to me, I would say wisdom is the ability to be present. When possible, to try and take a holistic view of a situation and see it from a well-rounded, compassionate perspective without initial judgment.
Of course, there may be, or have been situations in our lives, where we need to trust that what’s happening is dangerous, listen to our innate wisdom and protect ourselves so we can survive. That’s the beauty of inner wisdom, our survival mechanisms, and I, for one, am grateful every day for the wisdom I employed to survive my past.
The times when people have said to me, “you are wise” it was because I was responding to them in a fully present state. I was listening to what they were saying both verbally and nonverbally. I wasn’t thinking ahead to what I was going to say next, I wasn’t distracted by the noises that were external or internal. I was simply able to hear what they were saying and/or asking and respond in a way that was thoughtful and respectful. And truthfully, sometimes the wisest thing I have said to another person, and to myself is, I’m simply not able to be objective, or helpful. There are still some topics that when placed in front of me, I will react from a purely emotional place. No objectivity, compassion or understanding anywhere in my realm of consciousness. I understand that’s an effect of my trauma.
There are times that I still have to work hard at staying present. There are times when that is one of my most frustrating and biggest challenges. When I’m dealing with flashbacks, and triggers, staying present is often that elusive tool, that I know I have to employ. I think a lot of people, especially those of us who have been through trauma would say that staying present is a constant work in progress. Besides the normal monkey mind we all contend with, I also experience the challenge of climbing out of the vortex’s of the past, that pull me away, sometimes many times a day.
I believe as time goes on, I’m able to be present more often. I notice the birds singing outside the window, the wind gently blowing, the lawn mower of my neighbor, the noise of kids playing at the nearby playground and the sky. I love the sky! It’s paying attention to the present that keeps me grounded in the wise place where I continue to heal, grow, change and live.
What does wisdom mean to you?
Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph