This is a good one. It’s me to a T.
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
― William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”
tags: wisdom 31502 likes
This is making me miss Mom. She was so smart about Shakespeare; she knew all about this stuff: his backward phrasing and puns and little twists. I have asked Mom to help me with this one, so I’m just gonna let this one flow…
So often in life I have felt the fool and wondered about my point of being here on this planet. I have wondered what am I supposed to do here? Often I sit and wax existential and gaze upon my navel wondering if any action is the right action. Then I come to the conclusion that inaction is probably the Worst Thing of All. It’s better to make a mistake and learn from it than to do nothing at all.
This quote is all twisty. If a fool thinks himself to be wise (aka, a blowhard) and a wise man knows himself to be a fool, then aren’t we all blowhards, just some of us are better at faking it?
I feel like this quote braids with yesterday’s post about being silent. I know a few people in my life who just can’t help themselves, they can’t be silent, they have to chime in and illuminate us with their brilliance. I tire of them. One of the things that I hope my kids at least can count on is that I don’t bother trying to impress anyone anymore — that my mere existence can speak for itself and that if someone wants to get to know me, they can take that chance.
The other thing about me is this: I play my hands. I don’t sweat being quiet or prim to satisfy someone else. When I was quite young, apparently I was interested in attention. My father has this story about me banging my forehead on the railing of my crib to be let out, to be attended to, to be heard. I used to think that story was funny because he would tell it in such a way and mimic my crying and get all animated and work himself into a sweat portraying it. Now when I tell or think about that story, I don’t think it’s so funny, nor do I think the manner in which he told it was very funny, because if there’s one thing my dad can do it’s accurately portray a moment in history or at least the way it felt to him. So leaving a little toddler or baby alone and in a crib until she started banging her head against the railing isn’t so charming a thought now is it?
I have two scars on my forehead from a cut I sustained due to my incessant caterwauling. I didn’t discover the link until my dad told me all about those crib-banging stories. I think about my younger self and I feel a twinge in my chest for that little girl who was left to cry out to be heard, seen and understood. She was brave though. She saw incongruities and called them out despite their constant denial and said things weren’t funny when they weren’t funny. She grew up into a young woman who wore rage like armor and who spoke candidly but with some humor because we all have to get through this together. She has strong mercury lines on both her hands, she will be heard by the people who need to hear her because she is willing to say the things that need to be said. She then became a mother who sees through veneers, who sees around corners, fearlessly cares for her cubs and who tries delicately and artfully to work through a controversy. If it doesn’t work out delicately, then that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I can’t sweat this stuff forever: I have laundry, cooking, sweeping and writing to do.
That’s where the wisdom comes in. The other day, when we were driving back from Buffalo, I might’ve been an idiot. I woke pre-dawn and saw the sky, it was dark and gray. I didn’t check the weather radar on my phone, which I am glad of now because we made it home safe and sound, but it was stupid of me. I made this plan, “We are out the door by 8:30 am no matter what… ” the trip TO Buffalo was always “weather permitting” but the trip home was never allowed that nuance.
At 7:00 I woke the boys. Told them to eat. As the sun rose, I saw my car. It had 1.5″ of snow on it. It was fluffy stuff for it was only 22˚ out. I swept it off my cousin’s front stoop, started the engine, and loaded up the car thinking, “This is winter in Buffalo, this is what happens here…” not thinking at all to look at the weather, which is TOTALLY unlike me. We say our teary good-byes to my cousin, her husband and her kids, and we all pile in.
And later, this about six more times:
During that drive, my cousins were texting us. “Come back if it’s too snowy!” and “Turn around!” Thing 1 replied and said we were pushing through because we had moments of this:
I suppose I could have, maybe should have turned around. Around 2:30 I had had my son read the weather alert:
But we kept on keeping on. “I was practically born in this weather. This is no big deal.” I pressed on. That weather report was absolutely correct, there were moments when I couldn’t see beyond 40′ in front of my massive SUV with the brand-new tires (thanking God right now for that). The kids weren’t outwardly nervous but there was more bickering in the back seat than usual. I wondered about my wisdom then, I wondered if I was being intelligent, but I knew this: that turning around would expose us to more of what we just experienced and the Lake Effects snows are not things you screw around with. I knew that we’d seen the worst of it. Each time we passed through another squall. I knew that the more south we ventured, the more hospitable were the roads.
Once we crossed into Maryland it was as if snow was simply prohibited. The medians were dry and the sun was peeking through the clouds. So yeah… I was a fool, but a wise fool.
I don’t just suspect, think, know I am a fool, I AM a fool. That’s what makes me wise, I guess. Or a fool, depending on if you’re Shakespeare or not. Those pockets of dry road showed me that I was doing OK. There was one point where a large trailer was blocking a hill’s ascent and we had an opportunity to turn around. Because I wasn’t a local, I did turn around and just looked for signs that said SOUTH and I knew that either east or south would’ve gotten us home.
I am one of the first people to ask for help. I throw up flags when I’m lost. I find great liberation in not having all the answers. I just know what works for me; I will say this though: I also have allowed my “feeling” part of myself (my intuition) much more in the game than I ever did. My gut said to keep driving.
Part of growing up in the world in which I did meant that you learned to doubt your intuition. Listening to it is what has brought me the most peace. The gut feeling I get from things is what I heed. I think getting our undies in a bunch about stuff we can’t control is so utterly and completely pointless. When my own kids are all worked up about something, I listen to them and then we talk and then I say, “Does it matter? Really?” Depending on that answer, which is usually “Yes” we keep it up. It’s all about feeling heard.
I do know this: that when I feel the most blustery is when I need to access that wiser part of myself and just Shut the Shut Up. I need to do my counting-to-ten thing and walk away. I’m not always good about that because when I get blustery is when I feel unheard, threatened and little again and that my life or my sanity depends on saying what I need to say. The thing is, now: my life is not in straits. My life is OK, good even, and that’s when I need to come back to Now.
Wow. This went a lot deeper than I thought it would.
I guess the point in this is to admit we are born unto this world not knowing a blame thing and that once we admit that, we are ready to become wise, but to always know that we aren’t ever done learning. It’s those of us who think we know it all who really have the most to learn. Those Guys. Yuck. Be careful: we are one “Ya know what…” away from them.