I’m a wisdom seeker. Always have been. Even as a child I intuitively knew that there was a difference between the information and knowledge I was learning at school or through books. And the universal teachings that drilled deeper into the soul and lifted us higher into the spiritual world. That enlightened place where the spirit transcends and soars with the angels. The metaphysical marvel. The place of wonder. Awe. And beauty. That was where I wanted to go.
My first mentor, and the one who shared more wisdom than anyone I’ve ever known, was Ma.
Little back story.
Ma’s formal education ended somewhere in high school. Back then, this was typical for most poor or lower class families. Getting a “good education” was a pipe dream, but especially so, if you were a girl from a poor family.
Ma loved to read and had a secret desire to be an artist. She wanted more from life but didn’t know how to go after it. Yet, what she couldn’t do for herself, she did for her youngest daughter.
In her unassuming and humble way she taught me what I needed to know to chase my dreams. Even the big ones.
Gertrude Stein held court in her Salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus for the elite of the literary and artistic world. Ma had a Salon of her own at 204. Preposterous comparison possibly. But not to the young girls of the Sixties who gathered there around the kitchen table to discuss the happenings of our time. In our own way, we were equally brilliant and talented.
Ma was always there in the background. Quietly serving up homemade cookies or chocolate brownies, and most importantly, keeping the kettle boiling.
She never intruded. That wasn’t her way.
Although she remained discreetly in the background, we all looked up to her and admired her calm benevolence. When she did speak, which wasn’t often, we all thought she was so wise and intelligent. Her kindness, the cradle for her words. She was Master Po. We were Grasshopper.
The secret to her wisdom?
She listened. Carefully. Attentively. Earnestly. With an open mind and an even wider open heart. Without judgement nor condemnation.
She listened with kindness. Compassion and empathy. Caring and concern. She wanted to know. To understand.
She listened without distraction. She remained focused. Concentrated. Immersed in every word.
She listened with intention. Studiously. With deliberateness. Absorbed in the conversation.
She listened to the world around her. To nature. The voice of God. The universal stories of the Ages.
She listened to the words not spoken. The spaces. Gaps. Pauses. The silences and subtleties. The language of hands.
She listened to me. And still she loved me. Unconditionally. Without question nor hesitation.
There you have it. Listen and acquire wisdom. Sounds so simple. Trust me it’s not. Or at least not for me.
My hearing is good. Remarkably good for an old broad. But my listening skills, sadly, are not. And they have grown worse with time, not better. I am ashamed to admit, but somewhere along the journey from the kitchen table at 204 to this iMac, I have fallen in love with the sound of my own voice. All the silly chatter and trite bullshit that flows so easily from my mouth.
But starting today, I intend to change that.
I am here to listen. To you and you and you. Perhaps grow wiser.