July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
Another year has come and passed. Definitely older, perhaps wiser, but none the richer, I write this while standing in Melissa McCarthy‘s shadow as one among the few vacationers and even fewer Hollywood-types who remain past the end of the season by the shores of lake Balaton, where Jason Statham‘s character mistakenly endeavored to sail to the Mediterranean not realizing the impossibility of his quest, at the end of the movie “Spy.” No international intrigue or action-comedy will play out, at least in any obvious way, around these parts at this time of the year. By now, school is back in session and only those whose lives aren’t governed by the usual worldly obligations have the freedom to remain and enjoy the natural beauty of Hungary’s own freshwater sea. Those lucky few whose summer encroaches on autumn can enjoy the serenity of sailing the tranquil waters before the coming winter freeze orders the boats to shore to their respective winter sanctuaries. I much prefer to sail in September’s gentle breeze over the scorching heat and noisy crowds of July. The roughly 50 x 8 mile body of water constitutes a thin layer of only about 10 feet of average depth over a sandy benthic zone that reflects shades of blue-green, turquoise and aquamarine hues on the surface. Climbing into our boat from the knee-deep, crystal clear waters by a landing surrounded by bamboo, we raised our sails and were soon taken far offshore, the coastline quickly shrinking away into the distance and the waves quietly lapping around the hull. The placid lake stretched for miles around the gently rocking vessel, whose quiet, rhythmic locomotion produced a hypnotic effect. A birthday boat-ride on a lonesome lake is an idyllic location for quiet contemplation and the cultivation of wisdom. I had soon found a pearl of wisdom, recalling that:
“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future”
Such a thought will put a damper on many a blogger’s endeavor, presenting a seeming dichotomy between a responsible wisdom and the stuff of which blogs are usually made. Isn’t the essential nature of any log, even those kept on the web, the recollecting of the past? On certain occasions, such as New Year’s and anniversaries of all types, looking back to recall the past year’s events, doesn’t this rise to the level of imperative? Wasn’t my own pearl of wisdom produced by recollecting the past? Or rather, what someone else (George Bernard Shaw) had said in the past? And besides, aren’t those who cannot remember the past doomed to repeat it (to borrow from Santayana)?
Or perhaps the true moral is to not allow life to be dictated by quotes.
Whether deified wise men or ‘memes’ shared by the thousand, or perhaps the one-sided monologue of books and statistics, recollection is not the focus of wisdom. Recollection is only, at best, a foundation. Wisdom is built by the ability to critically examine what we are given, and to assimilate new and unfamiliar information in useful, meaningful ways. Recollection is knowledge. But wisdom requires responsibility.