While in the countryside in rural Quebec for a close friend’s wedding recently, I was reminded about the ingredients of wisdom.
A Rainbow’s Two Ingredients
The afternoon started with a bright and sunny sky. The chatter of old and new friends seeing one another, while enjoying a BBQ outdoors, served as a distraction as clouds started to fill the sky, quietly getting darker. To test if we were paying attention, the heavy clouds started to sprinkle lightly. Drops turned into showers. And within seconds, there was no more brightness outside. The torrential downpour spared no one. Everyone and everything was drenched.
As we rushed inside, the mood began to shift. Would it rain all evening? Would it rain all weekend? What about the outdoor wedding ceremony the next day? And all the activities planned? Fear started to appear, almost as if this rain would be permanent.
And then the rain stopped. A reminder that everything changes.
The clouds were now parting in the sky, the sun starting to shine again. A curious friend was the first to step back outside. And then another joined. And another. Everyone was outside now, standing quietly in awe, gazing into the sky.
Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Purple. Blue. Each colour, vivid, unique and visible clearly. Yet also blended, unable to see where one started and the other began.
A natural phenomenon was being witnessed. The result of two ingredients: sun and rain.
Wisdom’s Two Ingredients
Wisdom is a similar natural phenomenon, from my experience. Cultivating inner wisdom for me has been the result of two similar ingredients: knowledge and experience.
Sun can be a provider of heat, life and brightness, without discrimination to all that seek it. Knowledge is no different, providing to all those curious to learn.
Rain is a different type of provider. It can be dark, stormy, cloudy, wet and messy. Experience is no different, it can often be challenging along the way.
When I started my business ten years ago, feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was quick to seek knowledge from other entrepreneurs. One of whom became our first investor. His words were “you are going to run out of money, but you have to experience that yourself to really understand. My early investors told me that I would run out of money, I didn’t believe it yet I did. That’s how I learned and how you will have to learn as well.”.
We did run out of money in our first year. And again in our second year. Even though I had all of the knowledge, it was not until I experienced this that I truly understood. And since then, we have not ever run out of money (nor will we).
What I’ve learned countless times is that knowledge I receive from a teacher, parent or friend is useful only to direct curiosity. No one can give me wisdom. Wisdom is not possible without experience, which requires action. And like rain, sometimes experience is messy. It’s part of the process to cultivate inner wisdom.
The combination of the sun (knowledge) and rain (experience) gives birth to a natural phenomenon that is grounding. The mind takes a break from anticipating the future or reflecting on the past. The heart is not wishing for it to be anything different than what it is.
Acceptance comes easy, as it is nature. Outer or inner, it does not matter.