I was rushing to the dentist. The road was curvy and I was rather throwing the camper around the bends, lumbering through countryside that could be called the most beautiful in the world. Certainly, many come from all over to enjoy the rollings hills and forests, the hilltop towns, and the warm heart of Italy.
But I was rushing with some regret that I couldn’t enjoy the views, or just stop the van and sip a glass of cold juice as I listened to the birdsong by the lake.
I arrived on time – a little frazzled – and as I settled into the hard chair to await my fate I quickly scrolled through the podcasts on my phone to see if there was something worthy as I surrendered to the admittedly expert hands as they worked in my mouth.
Ted talks. The subject was Wisdom. I pressed the button and lay back to listen.
National Public Radio in the US is one of my favorites, as their reportage is non-urgent, diverse and intelligent. A young man was being interviewed about his understanding of wisdom. Did one have to be old to be wise?
“No.” he said. ”I don’t think so. I grew up on a nature reserve in South Africa.”
His accent was clipped, his articulation precise and to the point. “I loved living in nature. Everything works. It may seem cruel from the outside, but it really is a perfect mechanism. I used to enjoy watching the lions – one in particular – as he lay sprawled in repose for hours at a time. Then, at just the right moment, he would rise up, alert for the chase, his focus laser sharp and his body trembling with presence. That was wisdom to me, the knowing when to rest and the knowing the to act.”
I learned my lesson. Without the rest he couldn’t have been as present as he needed. Although it seems counterproductive as we plough our way through the list of things to do, the choice to resource is always there.
I like the lion’s way.