Otto's Eyes by Helen Ratcliff
"As wise as an owl", the old saying goes... But why is an owl wise? Is wisdom something that we all have? Are we born wise? Or, do we need to mature in age to obtain it? Is it nature or nurture? Is wisdom something passed down through generations? Say, for example, that I was related to Mozart (which I am not, as far as I am aware), would this mean that I would inherit the natural ability to compose music? Err, no. I do remember sitting on a stool next to my Dad, as he played 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano - over and over... okay, so that was Beethoven - however, I did not learn how to play myself. That said, I am not a composer, sadly. But... I do appreciate music. This is also greatly owed to having two brothers, both of them having endless musical knowledge and, you could say, expertise. They have influenced me massively. Consequently, because of nurture, I have the experience of listening to music which would make me wise. As spoken by Jimi Hendrix, "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens".
Wisdom is something that is supposed to prevent us from making further mistakes, prevents us from suffering and enables us to appreciate what we have. A wise person is always learning consciously and applying their knowledge. It seems that people who have more difficulty in life and more challenges to face, are in a process of learning about themselves and their reactions to situations. This process is the pathway to wisdom of the self. But, one still needs a good analytical mind to understand what it is that they are learning. Well, that would suggest that the more life experience you gain, the wiser you become. However, you can only grow by engaging and feeling - not just by watching your experiences. Furthermore, getting older does not necessarily mean getting wiser. Many folk use age as an excuse and in my eyes are merely wiseacres. Knowledge, and understanding of that knowledge, is a sapient quality earned through experiences and learning. knowing why you know something, rather than just knowing.... that is true wisdom.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, was the author of the original book of proverbs, inspired by God ( I kid you not), and, through his wisdom he turned to nature for guidance. I am not wishing to compare myself to Solomon, but have been inspired and guided by nature, as I am sure many of you have, also. Anyway, Solomon studied the small creatures and realised their principals and learned wisdom. They were as follows:
"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer".
"The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks".
"The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands"
"The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings's palaces".
According to Solomon, the ants showed application of preparation, the conies (mountain mice and rabbits) exemplified solidity, the locusts, unity and the spider, tenacity. Solomon wanted to share his understanding of principals and, thereupon, wrote the book of Proverbs so that mankind would grow in wisdom.
Wisdom is a deep understanding of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgements and actions in keeping with this understanding. So the principals of the universe such as reason and knowledge, prevail, so that we may determine actions. This is insightfulness, an optimum judgement leading to the comprehension of what is true.
The Roman Goddess, Minerva, represented knowledge and was said to have been born from Jupiter's brain. Her symbol was the owl. Yes, indeed, the wise old owl. Why? Because it can see in the dark. Cats can also see in the dark, therefore, as far as I am concerned, that would make them pretty wise too. After all, the cats' eyes inspired someone to put reflectors in the roads so that we may define our path at night. I call that wise.
Furthermore, The Native Americans' philosophy about being part of the natural world, in contrast to the European's culture, which was more about conquering nature's gifts, was the wisdom of knowing and understanding the importance of maintaining an ecological balance. They possessed a natural common sense related to conserving the resources within their environment.
Then, there is non other than the great Michelangelo. Someone everyone has connected with at some point in their life. He was a genius. A painter, sculptor, architect and poet. Rays of light, symbolically represented as horns on the head of Michelangelo can be a graphic symbol of wisdom. He also tried his hand at engineering. What a pioneer. He exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art as we know it. He pursued many disciplines and greatly deserved his title of the archetypal Renaissance man. His passions for art and knowledge were surpassing and reflected considerable wisdom.
Inside all of us, there is a wistful desire to gain wisdom. It is the key to life and can only be obtained through a hunger to learn and wilfulness to embrace new knowledge. We are not born with wisdom, yet it begins with the earliest stages of our existence. Our nature has the ability to facilitate and our nurture is the beginning. Starting with the self, the rest is learned. "knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom" - Aristotle.