“Wisdom Begins in Wonder.” – Socrates
I was given a bookmark with this quote years ago. I have no idea where that bookmark is but the quote has never left me. I have become fascinated with just about everything I encounter these days. Some people have called me wise and perhaps this is where it springs from.
After much spiritual searching, I too came to Socrates’ conclusion that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
We humans are a curious lot. It has something to do with how our brains work and what our egos become attached to. One function of the brain is to be a sophisticated predicting machine. This has been explored by science in numerous ways.
I mentioned a book I was reading in my last blog, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales. This predicting function is essential to our survival and our ability to operate in the world. It’s not a function of your conscious or logical mind either. It can work even if a person has lost the ability to store new memories.
The writer sites this example: A patient who had lost the ability to store new memories, not unlike Guy Pearce’s character from Memento, was greeted by her doctor with a handshake. The doctor had placed a pin in his hand which gave the woman quite a shock. The next time the doctor saw this patient, he reached out his hand but she recoiled without knowing exactly why. She had no memory of the pin but her body somehow did.
Isn’t that the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard?
If it’s not amazing or fascinating to you, I can’t help but feel a twinge of pity for the small world you must inhabit. But have no fear, all is not lost.
Do you want to be fascinated with something? Anything? Cultivate it. Start small. Get fascinated with someone in your life and you will realize how little you actually know about them, even your own parents or spouse. Hell, you have no idea how little you actually know about yourself until you start exploring.
Use the word “Wow” in regards to at least one thing a day. Like smiling, fascination is contagious. Look at a cup of water. How did you get it? “The faucet” is not the answer. That’s only the last step on a long journey for the water and you didn’t even mention the cup.
Without our brain’s ability to predict and perform so many functions automatically, you would spend your days doing nothing more than basic tasks and remembering to breathe. But that amazing automation has a price. You check out from a great deal of your life because your brain has already predicted how it will go, so you don’t really have to be there.
Stop walking around like you know how it is or how they are. You don’t. Remember that you only “think” you know how it’s all going to go but really, you don’t know shit.
That is step one on the road to Wisdom. Join me, won’t you?