Friday, April 01, 2005

Earning Wisdom

Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.
Abigail Van Buren , 1979

Just before I began writing this post tonight I gathered the framework to build upon. First to go on the page was the quote, which I had placed on my April calendar of subject matter the day before yesterday. After copying and pasting it above I began mulling over what it meant to me and how it relates to things I have gone through. I never rush at this point. I gave the notion to my mind and patiently waited to see how it responded.
As I sat contemplating I got a signal of an email. Since I had not written a word yet I opened my mail to find a new flash movie announcement. These are the first words I read there:
Dear friends,
My Gift in Life
The true story of someone who lives by her marriage vows. This is the
life of the poet's sister-in-law. She unstintingly
cared for her husband until he passed away. He was only 46.

For what seemed like long endless minutes I sat almost breathless, before my mind kicked into overdrive. I watched the movie without tears. I pasted it onto this post. Now I say with confidence that wisdom for me is the accumulated lessons learned from living through my darkest moments. Surviving them brought one kind of knowledge, thriving in spite of them is teaching quite another.
I learned more about myself from helping my husband die without fear than I have ever gathered any other way. It was not a exercise I wanted, but I faced it head on for his sake. Love is not free at all. It costs dearly sometimes. I remembered clearly the bittersweet agony of tending to him like an infant, while reminding him he was my man. But the pain of that time is overshadowed now by the pride I feel for a hard job well done.
I am thankful that I cared enough to shadow my pain and spare him some. I am humbled by the trust he placed in my ability to give comfort. I was happy to pay a price so he could pay less. Loving through thick and thin takes wisdom. If it were an easier thing it would not be of such value.
Try to remember that the wine you drink tomorrow will come from the grapes you stomp yesterday. Today is the only chance you have to sweeten the mixture.