Monday, December 29, 2008

My Wisest Words

I try to put some thought into things I say and write, especially when those things are for public consumption. I try to study where I should, think through what I want to say, and craft my words precisely.

But sometimes things happen that remind me what true wisdom is, and where it can be found. For instance, for the week around Christmas Day we stayed with my daughters' families, and had a grand time with the grandchildren. One of my grandsons is only five months old, so there's not much conversing we can do, but he likes me and I enjoy bouncing him and singing him nonsense syllables. This babbling serves no functional purpose except perhaps as a source of amusement to those watching, and is hardly dignified, but that doesn't matter. My grandson enjoys it, and while I'm doing it, he's all that matters.

Therein lies the wisdom that discursive reason cannot grasp. At his age, the little guy is that curious combination of totally self-centered and utterly unselfconscious. He has not yet learned to be sly, or to work things to his own advantage (those days will come soon enough). He simply exists out of his own center, living life as it happens. That outlook seems contagious, for when I'm playing with him, I find myself doing the same thing. I'm not thinking of his education, or character formation, or any other such weighty things (those days, too, will come soon enough, albeit secondarily for me). I'm simply being grandpa, and enjoying our time together. I'm not planning, or executing, or evaluating, or pondering - I'm just being, and relating out of that being. It's a skill that babies and a few others possess, and we adults tend to lose along the way.

This isn't to say that there isn't virtue in contemplation, or carefully deliberated action. But there's also a place for simply being, and enjoying who you are and who you're with. Hopefully we'll all take some time to do that during this holy season.

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