On growing and knowing | Wisdom

wisdom tree

wisdom tree

The older I get the less I know. I woke with these words in my mouth, and they taste both new and true.

My birthday has arrived and this one is significant somehow in a way no others have been. Fifty five, as in 55! The exclamation point is genuine, because I am rather mystified at the speed with which time passes. Those numbers look so solid and substantial on the page. Time is one of the things I used to think I knew something about.

When I was young I thought I’d always know more as I got older, but I think I was confusing knowledge with wisdom. Knowledge says,” I know why the sky appears blue and when the tide will rise. I know which suspected carcinogens reside in that food and this shampoo. I know who the first ten US presidents were and where Albania is and how to say spring in Hebrew.” Knowledge knows from the head.

Wisdom does not concern itself with facts and figures. It doesn’t believe, it just knows. Wisdom is married, in a long-coupled and deeply familiar way, to an abiding trust in the ways of the universe. That loving marriage can bear many fruits, not the least of which is compassion. Wisdom knows from the heart.

Wisdom is humble, while knowledge can sometimes be arrogant. It seems to me, too, that knowledge is about acquiring, about taking things on, absorbing information. And knowledge can be incredibly useful for living in the world and getting by. Wisdom is about peeling stuff away, letting go of appearances and allowing the light and the darkness to complement each other. Letting go and allowing.

Part of my decision to start a blog relates to my relationship with wisdom. I’m moving closer to living authentically more of the time. This includes noticing and even embracing the fact that my head knows less than I thought it did. For example, I no longer know what path is right for you, why you act the way you do and why or how you can do what you do and say what you say. Wisdom means noticing and embracing that my heart knows more than I knew it did. For example, I know that when I trust my intuition I can flow with the river of life rather than try to swim against it. The blog? Intuition made me do it.

I look forward to a year of letting go and allowing, of knowing less and being more. And you know what, 55? That exclamation point looks good on you!

Still life with Orioles | Nature, Parenting

Vintage artwork by Walter Weber

Vintage artwork by Walter Weber

One of the things that goes along with having a special needs child is the kind of connections you make. I know many families with one or even two children who have a variety of disabilities, different abilities. The challenges can be immense. When I consider the qualities of inner strength and deep compassion, many of these moms and dads rise like lotus blooms to the surface of my murky mind. Among them live some of my soul sisters, my s/heroes, my support network, my inspiration.

I wrote the following last spring after a lunch meeting with an amazing mom I know. She relayed a story about happenings in her backyard and the image it evoked has stayed with me all year.


She walks barefoot in her little yard, quiet and careful lest she disturb the Baltimore Orioles nesting in a tree there, those birds who arrived like a gift and stayed like a sign.

Inside the house there are papers everywhere, notes and records and bills. The health insurance company is not insuring enough to be assuring or reassuring. In his bed her only son, only one, sleeps heavily despite the morning sun. He seized again, in the night and she who barely sleeps, at least not heavily, was right there, right there with her heart as always beating in her hands as she watched, as she held, and she medicated and soothed and prayed. As she prayed.

MEDITATION | Meditation, Poetry


The Sit

When I am asked how to meditate
There are no words the color of presence
No shapes that look like attention

I can only tell you what my senses tell me
Or how I dread and then savor it
And how little I attend to such reaction

Most of all I love the earned silence
The way it drapes over my shoulders and
Fills the hungry belly of my soul.

The deep delight lives,
not in sweeping thought away,
But in having no attachment to mental litter.

The sit asks little, really. Just to
Do it, please, and be with what arises.
Just to be it, please, and not do what arises.

-Melinda Coppola