The Best Time to Cultivate Wisdom.

February 1, 2022

The Best Time to Cultivate Wisdom.

May 29, 2023

An old Chinese proverb says, "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. And the second-best time is now."

The same philosophy could be said for cultivating wisdom. It was best to start a long time ago but now can serve you just as well. Fortunately, I was able to create "My Wisdom Book" 33 years ago, which has helped me metabolize my life experience ever since. You could start doing the same thing today.

Take 20-30 minutes each weekend to write down some bullet points of your most significant lessons of the week. In doing so, you create meaning from those lessons and wisdom from that meaning. Miraculously, you are a wiser person as a result. There were a few years in which I read all 52 of my weekly entries at year-end and came up with my top 10 list of best lessons for the year, which probably just accelerated my wisdom harvest even further.

Speaking of harvesting wisdom, I'll finish today with something that MEA alum Liz Gebhardt shared with me on the cyclical nature of trees (written by the late Thich Nhat Hanh):

"I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, "No. During the whole spring and summer, I was completely alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So, I don't worry at all. As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, 'I will see you again very soon.' That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf."

Ultimately, our wisdom is not our possession. It is meant to be shed, like a leaf, to become a nutrient that will keep the tree—or our society—stronger. That's part of the reason why I share (or shed) the wisdom I've learned along the way, especially to those younger than me. After all, they are the ones who will keep this tree alive long after I've departed.

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