To prepare for speaking publicly about my forthcoming novel, The Wisdom of the Willow, I plugged into a webinar courtesy of a publicist. The speaker talked to an author audience about wisdom, and making heart connections with others when we go out into the world to talk about our books, our writing, our selves. She asked if we had a vision statement. A vision statement? “It’s what you believe in, furthering a movement, expressing yourself to the world,” she said. I just write. I responded to the computer screen.
At first, I questioned if this was all necessary. I mean, the questions were too much, too deep, too analytical to ponder for my best answers. After all, it’s not like I’m gearing up for a TEDx talk. Perhaps my thinking was in resistance to seeking an answer. Do writers even have vision statements? Perhaps I missed that webinar lesson.
I was curious, though, if maybe I had a vision statement, and I just didn’t realize it. To help us answer this question was the reason she followed up with another: why do you write?
The idea of wisdom has been dropping into my mental conversations and writing work like any good photobomber. I’ve even included the word “wisdom” in the novel’s title. When reading . . . anything, I usually home in on any hints of wisdom from the author, contemplate the meaning and maybe agreeing or disagreeing. From a bit of wisdom from Hemingway about judging, which is not limited to a writer, but to anyone, “The writer’s job is not to judge, but to understand,” to the author of The Wisdom Writers: Plato, Rumi, Thoreau, Aurelius, Solomon, Benjamin Mester’s definition of wisdom as knowing how to live one’s life well, there’s plenty of wisdom available to us. Perhaps a combination of the two, living a good life is to not judge, would make for a good snippet of wisdom.
Wisdom is defined as being synonymous with insight, perception, and the ability to discern. And it’s also about knowing when and how to use the knowledge, how to put situations in perspective, and how to communicate it to others. I think of the saying, “a wise philosopher once said . . .”
Yet, are we looking for wisdom . . . or is it knowledge we seek?
Apparently, there is a difference, according to Hermann Hesse, poet and novelist who says, “Wisdom cannot be imparted . . . Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
How often we pull wisdom from conversations with others from books that dispense wisdom like an overflowing river, to guide us to where we want to be headed on foot, in actions or with our thoughts, eager for clarity and life lessons learned as if we lack any of our own.
But do we ever consider the reverse? How do we express ourselves to the world? Do we ever think of what we believe in?
I reviewed my writing over the years, the essays and books, the submissions, the pile of discarded writing that really wasn’t because I still had it, and noticed a common thread: finding our places, and the connections that help us do that. We have a reciprocal relationship with the natural world, and we should find joy in the smallest of things nestled under the wings of mother nature, and find home while embracing the emotions of self.
My wisdom may not be big in scope, loom large as may come from Rumi or Plato, but is simplistic that has revealed itself when sitting on a tree stump in the middle of the woods observing the rituals of nature. What we have gained is not knowledge but insight and a perception of just how we sit among the largeness of a place of ultimate connections.
Perhaps this is all part of my vision statement.
I think of this one often, from one of my favorites, Robert Frost. Perhaps when taking the road less traveled, it is not knowledge that you will find, but a nugget of your vision statement.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.