This morning I’m sitting on my daughter’s sofa in New Jersey. It’s a very nice day, and I can see blue sky out the window.
I’ve been thinking about wisdom. And I rather wonder what it is. Some young women have said to me, in passing, in comments, “You are wise.” Let’s argue their case, as though it has merit. Let’s ignore any self-doubt I feel. It’s not useful right now.
I always imagined wisdom as weighty. Involving perhaps a pervasive state of calm, for old souls who reach out and touch your shoulder, always at just the right moment. If so, I am not wise. I gesticulate. Stuff gets spilled.
But if, if, I’m wise at this point it’s from living for a long time and paying attention. Living for a long time, paying attention, burning in what matters. Letting age fade everything else. I believe in giving meaning its due.
Some young women I follow had babies a couple of weeks ago. Listening to them talk about their experience brings back memories of early days. When you’ve just brought home a baby you can’t help but pay attention. You will watch even a simple flush rise and fade in their cheeks.
Last night I slept in my grown daughter’s bed with her. This morning I woke up early, snuffling. She roused and said, “Mama. Do you need a tissue?” “No,” I said, “Can I hug you for a minute?” One does not hug one’s adult daughter as she sleeps, not without permission. She turned on her side to face me. I put one arm under her head, and the other over her shoulder, my cheek against her forehead. I felt the little bones of her shoulder, and her breath. She fell asleep.
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