Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Camouflaged Wisdom

We've all heard them and may have even vowed to never say them. It's even possible we promised if anyone around us said them we'd likely disavow their friendship. Yet, each of us in a moment of frustration or weakness has probably professed them, at least once or twice. And what are these things we have sought to avoid uttering at all costs? They're those clichéd words of homespun wisdom we unwittingly inherited from our parents and others.

One version of a fairly commonplace saying handed down from generation to generation is this: "If your buddy jumped off a cliff, does that mean you would too?" Now if in days gone by you answered in the affirmative to this query (either because yeah, you would jump off a cliff or because you wanted to be a smart aleck), you probably found out such a reply wasn't in your best interest.

On the other hand, such a question did get you to thinking about 1) seeing something from a different angle and 2) whether it was just dumb allegiance that led you to blindly follow the herd.

It should come as no surprise then that these timeworn phrases have a ring of truth to them, a hidden gem of real wisdom. The fact they're handed down shows they still possess some punch (i.e. educational value). I didn't appreciate that nuance much growing up, but since I've entered adulthood -- and have found myself using a few of these nuggets on occasion -- I better understand they're staying power.

The point here is that wisdom, however it presents itself to us, makes good building blocks for constructing a practical and sensible life. I found this out again not too long ago when wisdom arrived -- from of all places - the mouth of my mechanic. You see, I told him I thought I could save a few bucks by holding off on the new brake pads he recommended, at least for a while. Upon dispensing this pearl of spending restraint, he told me I could indeed wait a while, adding that to do so might require additional work and expense on the brake drum. "You can pay me now, or you can pay me double later. It's up to you."

As my car was rising on the lift I again appreciated the presence of wisdom in its many forms.

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