Wisdom

By Stuart Whitley | Bio


the man with the unpressed suit and upraised arms
speaking in monotone, knows exits and oxygen masks
the woman in the seat beside me moulds latex
into monsters’ heads for movies, and wonders
if she has time for a Harvey’s hamburger, loaded,
before her bags arrive on the carousel
do these people have wisdom?
 
five miles below, a man scratches earth from dinosaur bones
and another scutters down darkened lanes breaking car windows
looking for glitter, running from the alarm’s wail, laughing
is there wisdom in knowing what to look for?
is there the slightest wisdom in getting away with something?
 
when the magi set off to honour the birth of an unknown child
were they wise because they knew what no one else knew?
the natural way is the wisest way, the old cultures have it
but are my instincts wiser than those of the ebola virus?
the lawyer wielding principle like a club seems wise
though reason may be just to the cause, it is cruel to the man
is a judge wise to discern the difference, or wiser to ignore it?
 
every child believes that darkness is scary and the enemy’s evil
that strangers will hurt you but loved ones will not
can the seeds of wisdom possibly lie in what everyone thinks to be so?
are we wise when we’ve learned our lesson, or acknowledged mistakes?
does any part of wisdom lie in relinquishment, regret or longing or pain?
is it only then that the truest value of a thing is taken?
 
do we know wisdom to see it? can we teach or acquire it?
is it the same as feeling or sensing or waiting or wanting?
is it somewhere near the sum of experience?
having it, are we happier, richer, sexier or more clever?
or is it an abstract, like Baffin, familiar but remote?
 
wisdom, I think, is a version of sorrow, a burden
a state of mind edged with sadness, even as it knows joy
more believing than knowing, more patience than insistence
it is seeking to understand, and be understood,
the divinity that is discovered in ourselves, and in others

and finally:
wisdom is a reverence for what is essential in the human condition
which is why this love, this bottomless love of ours, is so wise

© 2002 Stuart J. Whitley. All rights reserved.

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