Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
That’s what I took away from my class yesterday (thanks Tim). The philosophy class of my nightmares spent a lot of time yesterday talking about the difference between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. There were some in the class that looked at it like a linear progression, first you gain knowledge, and from that knowledge comes wisdom, and from that wisdom comes understanding. A lot of them mentioned that the people they consider wise are the ones that are older, the ones that have lived and have a lot of experience under their belt. I’m trying not to be the devil’s advocate, but I think that age does not necessarily determine wisdom.
Today is the first day of the Jewish New Year. This day also marks the one year anniversary of the day I left for Scotland. I was excited, nervous, and completely looking forward to my adventure. The start of the Jewish new year is about reflecting and atoning. While there is no way I could possibly begin to reflect on the entire year of adventures (or misdeeds for that matter), I can say that I am a much wiser person.
Last year at this time my post about the new year was filled with worry that I was not a good enough Jew to be with David. I was worried about fitting in with his family, and being able to become the type of Jewish wife that he wanted. At the time I was worried that I was never going to be good enough, and that I was going to be spending the 70 years catching up to where I should have been. Last year I was missing home, missing David, and missing the connection to other Jewish people.
This year I am missing Scotland. In that moment last year I thought I had my life all planned out. I was going to marry my Jewish lawyer and raise good Jewish babies in San Diego. I thought that was what I wanted. I thought that was part of being an adult, settling down and having your life figured out. In this moment now, I have no idea what I am going to do tomorrow, much less the next 70 years. I have the deep understanding though that I would not have been happy in that life. I’m currently mostly single, in a doctoral program, and have no real job to speak of. The only thing I know for sure is that I no longer have a plan…..and that scares me. I’m not an adult yet (and really have no idea how to be one), I don’t know if I want to be an adult (because who wants to worry about paying bills), and I worry that being an adult means the end of my wanderlusting ways. Adults don’t pick up and move to other countries on a whim. Adults don’t nap in the afternoon sun on a Wednesday to clear their heads, and adults don’t rush home from class to go to comedy clubs with their best friend.
The thing is, I have the wisdom and understanding to know that I do not have to grow up right this second. Today I was reading a blog (you can find it here: http://theduckandtheowl.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/doors-transitions-graphics/) and a picture on the blog really stuck out to me.
Sarah, the author of the post is going through something very similar (and has written it out much more eloquently than I have) and this picture really reminded me that it is okay that I am a little lost right now. It is okay that my plans now are different than my plans a year ago. If I was still on that life path, I would not be at Fullerton pursuing my doctoral degree, and right at this moment I would be sitting in temple feeling awkward and out of place. I may be lost and worried about the future right now, but like my grandma always said, take care of today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.
I know in the end all the dots will connect and everything will work out, but in the meantime I am just going to put one foot in front of the other and see where that takes me.
I wish all of my friends, Jewish and otherwise, a happy and healthy new year full of adventures, laughs, and lots of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
Happy 29th of Elul, 5773