The wise scowl at passersby and mumble, “You shouldn’t do that.” Their wisdom is wasted.
By Marilyn Mackenzie
Wisdom is to be shared, but people today don’t share much of anything. Most people probably don’t even realize they have a life full of wisdom eagerly waiting to emerge and be shared.
As I drove back from Galveston, after finally having my back injury examined, I thought about the need each of us have to share our experiences and the wisdom we’ve acquired. I injured my back way back at Thanksgiving, and it was good to finally be having something done about it. If you’ve read any of my other writings, you know the problems I’ve gone through, the financial problems I faced. But that’s not what this is about.
Driving back, I was concerned about the car. It had overheated on the way to Galveston, but I turned off the air conditioning, and prayed that I could make it back to my apartment in Lake Jackson, some 45 miles away. And then I began to think.
I thought about guy I was dating and what made him different than every other man I had met in the six years since I had separated from my spouse of 20 years, my son’s father. The one big difference between this man and all the others was that he enjoyed having my son around because the man enjoyed my company, and my son was part of me.
That my son was 19 and not working or going to school, that we were trying to discover the extent of his problems, to find out if Asperger’s was the label belonging to his disabilities, none of these things frightened my new friend. He was prepared to embrace my son, just because it was the right thing to do.
This man had always wanted a son. He wanted to share some fatherly wisdom, the kind that is gender specific. He had a grown daughter, but he always longed to share "guy things." My son’s father never bothered to share anything with him. Perhaps it was a bit late in my son’s life to be getting some of that fatherly wisdom bestowed upon him. Perhaps not.
I smiled to myself, as I first considered it was the “bubba” in my Texas friend coming out that made him want to share his wisdom with a son. Southern gents are a different breed, and there are some things indigenous to Texas. But as I drove home, I thought about this man’s desire and need to share, and I realized we probably all have that same desire within us, no matter our gender or our place of origin.
In past cultures, elder men shared with the younger ones, elder women with younger women and girls. Stories about Native Americans advise that the men and boys went off to hunt together while the women and girls stayed back at home. In the evenings, men sat around in a circle and talked; women sat in another circle and talked.
In colonial days, settlers shared wisdom. Women had sewing bees and quilting bees, wisdom was shared as they busily used their hands.
Later years found male wisdom being shared at the local barbershop or in front of the corner store as the men sat around and whittled.
Even in the days of black and white television programming in the 50’s and 60’s, wisdom was regularly shared. After huge holiday dinners, the men and boys sat in one room and talked while the women and girls washed and dried dishes and talked.
Normal families gathered around the dinner table each night, where mothers and fathers could talk and listen to their children. Elders were respected and honored for their wisdom and experiences.
But what of today?
There isn’t much opportunity for sharing between generations today. The healthy elderly elect to retire to warm climates of Florida and Arizona, or they travel the country in their RV’s, stopping only briefly to visit with their children and grandchildren.
The not so healthy are dumped in nursing homes, their wisdom all but lost on younger generations.
Even immediate families don’t have the opportunity to sit and share any more. Most families I know often don’t share one single meal for weeks at a time. The lives of children are too cluttered with sports practices and dance lessons; parents work long and hard, and often bring their work home with them. Family dinners and the sharing of the day’s activities and seeking advice from parents have become things of the past.
But I don’t think we ever lose the need to share our wisdom with others. Why else do older people often wear scowls as they go about their lives, and when the opportunity arises, say, "You shouldn’t be doing that" to strangers in their midst. The need to share their wisdom has not been appeased.
As a writer, I do have the opportunity to share tidbits of wisdom gleaned from living life. Musicians have that same opportunity to share what they have learned and felt through songs that they write. Artists share their lives through paintings and sculptures.
But what of regular folks? Folks not inclined to be creative and share with multitudes by way of books or magazines or Internet sites? They are forced to scowl at passersby as they mumble, "You shouldn’t be doing that." And their wisdom is wasted.