This story, “Am I Now a Wise Woman?,” was the first one in a client’s book of memoirs. It contains almost no detail itself, so could be considered lacking in elements that make a memoir memorable. However, it does introduce a book that is rich in experience and, well, wise.
What makes a woman wise?
Start with “older.” The younguns are rarely even knowledgable, much less wise. I am older, 70, in fact. That certainly makes me a time-honored woman. But knowledgeable?
So, add “knowledgable.” This is a difficult term: Nobody has been conversant with the majority of what is to be known since the Middle Ages, and nobody today is aware of more than a very small fraction of even one subject of inquiry. However, I do have a college degree with “high distinction” (as they call it when you have mostly As) and find that I often am aware of more about a subject than the person I’m talking with. This is not necessarily a fun thing; I would rather talk with people who are aware of more than I am.
Ah, add “aware.” Alert. Attentive to others. This is a big issue for us as we get older and older. The more knowledge and experience we have, the more we tend to rattle on about things that have meaning for us but may be boring to others. I hope I am responsive enough to others not to do this too often, or at least to be entertaining when I do.
Oh, now add “responsive.” I have a real appreciation for the work of Erik Erikson. Erikson was a psychologist who is best known for a theory of psychological development I know nothing about. I know him, instead, as the psychologist who found a way to empower each client to enact a change at the exact moment that the client was ready to make the change. Now, that’s responsive! Something to hope for, but probably never quite achieve.
I’m not sure where “intelligent” comes into this. Surely one has to be above a certain intelligence to be wise. I am a Mensan, so I have proof I’m smart. Intelligence may be overrated, however; smartypants doesn’t cut it. It’s more important that one hope to do well and try hard and keep on trying and hoping.
So we get to: “hoping for wisdom.” This is not something I would have thought of when I began this bit of writing. But it does apply. If I’m old enough, and knowledgeable enough, and aware enough, and responsive enough, and intelligent enough—and if I have hope—perhaps wisdom comes.
Being wise, therefore, is something I can only strive for and hope for—and be profoundly thankful for if it comes to me.
Has it come to me? Am I a Wise Woman now?