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GENERATIONS: Doug Lewandowski: Wisdom by any other name. . .

Wise men are gifts. Oops, I'm NOT excluding women here. Consider both sexes lumped together. Whew, I'm tired already. Maybe I should take my nap and start over!

Doug LewandowskiIn fact, the most famous wise men in history probably needed to bring women along on their journey to see the newborn savior. Perhaps then they would have gotten there on time instead of meandering around in the desert hauling all that gold, frankincense and myrrh around thinking they knew where they were going.

Same thing with old Moses. Seriously? Forty years of wandering trying to make it to Israel? A woman or two would have come in handy by asking directions of the nearest Bedouin on a camel. If these travelers had listened to the women before they all got into an argument about the right road to take, Moses and the Israelites wouldn't have needed God to bail them out with manna!

Being wise doesn't come with dropping in to this universe and then making pronouncements. We aren't born with discernment. We earn it through experience and hard work. It's making mistakes as we stumble along that leads to the most important element of wisdom—good judgement. Goofing up the first time is understandable because a person is new at something. But the mistake shouldn't be repeated again and again in order to learn.

There is a line between wisdom and being a smart aleck. I never could figure out the distinction between the two "smarts" even after consulting Dr. Google. There probably isn't one.

A wise person knows his or her limits. Stepping out of your own knowledge base and telling someone what's what makes you look foolish. In conversation with someone who knows a lot about a subject it's wiser to listen. A good approach might be to say, "Tell me more." That's when we learn. Advising a rocket scientist on how to get to the moon after completing your GED seems a bit presumptuous.

The next time there is a large family gathering, watch for the Aunt Berthas or Uncle Ernies who don't say much. Unless their hearing aids are on the fritz, they don't need to say much. They already know. When asked they will tell, but they don't need to prove anything.

The sage person is compassionate, a good listener and open-minded.

The next time you get lost in the desert, ask for Pete's sake. I bet the woman or man next to you might have a thing to say. Hopefully it will be a wise answer instead of a smart—comment. Inspired by J. Friedt.