Who Can Offer You Some Wise Words?

May 14, 2020

Who Can Offer You Some Wise Words?

May 29, 2023

I know it can feel oxymoronic to be full of anxiety and wisdom at the same time. But they often live side by side, a fact which forces us to choose which side to lean toward. Most days, I choose wisdom. It’s far more comforting and practical.

Of course, if wisdom is so valuable, especially these days, where is our supply chain for wisdom coming from?

My friend and mentor, Marc Freedman, has told me stories about his mentor John Gardner, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s cabinet and the founder of Common Cause. Gardner would suggest to Marc that when he was going through a difficult time, he might try asking, “What is it trying to teach me?”

This PBS link of a speech Gardner gave thirty years ago may be particularly relevant to you today, especially those of you in midlife or later. It’s a long read but worth it, especially for those of you with a little extra time on your hands. I particularly appreciate this paragraph as it reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”:

"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account."

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