From where do we derive wisdom? We can’t look it up online and order a pound or a box or a pallet of wisdom. Many acquire it from parents and grandparents, if they are wise enough (smart enough?) to be paying attention. But in those cases where parents and/or grandparents haven’t been available during formative years, from where does wisdom come?

As one who has occupied this planet for a number of decades, I submit that wisdom is acquired primarily from making mistakes and learning from them. We often believe that mistakes are toxic. Once we stop blaming ourselves (and others) for our errors, it’s inevitable that learning will take place.

The best part is that we don’t always know from where learning will be derived and how it is constructed. Here’s an example: Many years ago, I took driving lessons because my dad admitted that he didn’t have the patience to teach me. Some years later, I was pulled over by a Chicago policeman because I failed to pull over and enable right of way for a fire engine. He didn’t ticket me but I was certain that I wasn’t taught to pull over, just learning it through this wake-up.

It’s definitely not a large dose of wisdom but I am grateful that I have been able to pull over ever since, ostensibly contributing to life-saving measures. In the same manner, I have learned other important facts about driving, teaching and life in general.

As soon as we believe that we know it all or have heard it all, we restrict ourselves from acquiring wisdom. My students teach me daily, about such things as the need for patience, the imperative of teaching them as individuals instead of as a class and the fact that playground behavior is often representative of needs for running, jumping and playing tag without restraint.

We probably won’t have the option of contacting Amazon for wisdom, a fact for which I am grateful. Instead, we need to keep our eyes open to the morsels of good sense that appear on our plates every day. Shalom.

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