In finishing Pamela Druckerman’s new book, There Are No Grown-Ups, I’ve been reflecting on her discussion and research of Widsom. (Yes! There is scientific inquiry into “wisdom” and what makes someone wise.) Wisdom, as my summer plane-read tells it, is the combination of experience and reflection with an ability to extrapolate that information forward.
As I take in the state of my physical home and body since I arrived back from my 5 weeks away, I notice several things that are not unusual: a sinkful of dishes, full-to-burst recycling, and an absolute absence of physical exercise.
What is unusual is that I know that this is temporary.
I have tended in the past to make such “horrors” mean something about me, and to mean something about the condition of my future. I extrapolate this state of chaos and sedentariness to be a permanent stagnation that will forever impact the rest of my beating life!
Luckily, today I know that this is not the case. I know that my physical states reach low periods during transitions or hard emotional times, and I have seen them change!
When several months ago, as my relationship was in devolution and my boyfriend was still living here, I drove home from work, sat on the couch, and read Game of Thrones for 4 hours. Every day. For weeks.
I didn’t “want” to be spending my time that way. I kicked myself for “wasting my life.” I feared this meant I would never have ambition, never make progress in my life. But in retrospect, I know that it was my way of coping with the circumstances, and I saw it change very quickly once the parting was imminent.
I have had periods of time where I binge on baking shows, novels, pinterest. I have also had periods when I walk every afternoon, go to the gym, run regularly…or even do art. I have even had times when I wash my dishes every evening and arise to a clean kitchen every morning.
So, what I know, and what is bringing me relief at the moment, is that my physical chaos/stagnation is just a blip. It’s just a manner of self-soothing. And I get to be kind to it today. I get to say, “Hey guy, you’re clearly having a lot of feelings right now, but don’t worry, they will pass.” My home will again be clean, my body will again feel strong. And my life is and will again feel one of progress, I promise.
I’m so grateful for the chance to use my wisdom—experience, reflection, extrapolation—to offer kindness to myself. Because I have never once nagged or bad-mouthed myself into or out of a damn thing anyway.