At the Sage-ing Conference, I met many interesting people and one of them was Bob Atchley. He has been involved in the Sage-ing Guild for years and taught at Miami of Ohio University for over 30 years. Atchley is an accomplished writer of books and articles, But since he has transtioned out of higher education, he has focused on songwriting and he shared with us some of the songs he has written. In fact, in my leadership course, I bought his CD to play as a way to share his wisdom.
Wisdom has been one of my favorite words for several years now. I find the word intriguing, yet inspirational and Atchley shared his definition of wisdom. He said that wise people have:
- the ability to respond to a situation with clarity and compasison. They feel the pain and are movtivated to do something to help.
- a deep understanding in a large context. They ask questions to learn more.
- deep listening skills. They create spaces where people can ask them questions.
But Atchley emphasized that wise people are good at waiting–attentive waiting. They pay attention to the person completely. The request for wisdom will come if needed. He said this is similar to the Quaker practice of waiting.
Atchley told us to "go out and be wise. Be quiet. Wait." He encouraged younger people to ask for wisdom. And he said elders need to show up and make ourselves available and that it doesn't matter if anyone notices. This is why intergenerational learning is so important in growing in wisdom. We can all learn from each other. But this does not happen if we only "hang with our own crowd" all of the time or if we segregate into age groups.
It certainly does not happen when we shut off elders from society in gated communities. This is one reason why Bill Thomas is on a mission to revolutionize "retirement villages" by incorporating different age groups such as integrating childcare centers so that elders can mentor, teach, and care about children. Since families are so spread out, we can all help each other.
It sounds trite, but it does take a village. When I was growing up, one set of grandparents lived five miles away and they were a significant part of my life. This has not been the case for my kids.
How many of you could have used some additional mentors in your life to help you?