The scholars and philosophers of old valued all kinds of intelligence. They broke it down into three major components – knowledge, raw intelligence, and wisdom. The greatest thinkers had all three.
My high school English and literature teacher taught me a word I carry with me everywhere: Sapientia. A Latin word roughly translated to: wisdom, but it truly means much more. It means to have mastered those three forms of intelligence.
Everyone eventually develops Sapientia. Our experiences build up to that. A lifetime of learning brings us this higher understanding. I prefer to learn through mistakes – other’s mistakes if I have it my way, but I learned plenty from my own.
I have a few poignant examples: I was just old enough to “help” on the farms my family worked. My 4-year-old frame was carrying a bottle of milk to feed some lambs. My parents always warned me that ewes get very protective of their babies, just like my mom. I just had to feed them though.
I. Never. Saw. It. Coming.
This ewe butted me from behind and I took to the air like Superman, arms outstretched and all. Then she did it again. My mother intervened (she was also protective of her offspring) and I’m still alive today, but I learned two things that day. Females are deadlier than the male in many species and given enough thrust anything can fly.
When I was 7 years old, I handled our family pet rabbit without a shirt one day. "Hopscotch" didn’t like being picked up and started to panic. My father saw this and saved me the pain of being eviscerated by rabbit back claws. He took the wound for me by taking our lovable lop from me.
Rabbits, despite being cute and cuddly can leave lifelong scars. Duly noted "Hopscotch."
At age 17, I took a corner, which was known for being icy in the winter too fast in our SUV. I had to get home to play a newly released video game. As you can imagine, I wound up standing on the door, climbing out, looking at a ditch realizing I ruined a car and my life was about to end at my parents' hands.I gained a new respect for ice and discovered that video games are not worth thousands of dollars. I’m a more patient person now and have developed better driving habits.
My mother and father would tell me stories of their misspent youth. They talked about my grandparents' exploits in war and rural life. They warned me about farming dangers. It’s where I learned to listen and observe my surroundings. My friends growing up made plenty of mistakes I could bear witness to and learn from as well.
You see, experience is my favorite form of intelligence, that’s where wisdom comes from. Don’t get me wrong, I love books. I respect knowledge, but nothing beats living through something and simply knowing how it turned out.
This one is for my ancestors and family who taught me through tales. Thanks to my hooligans I call friends, now I know what not to do.
Thanks to Mr. Tony Morgan who filled my brain with knowledge and lore. I don’t have Sapientia yet, but I see how to find it from here.
NATE MUNSON, Utica native, warrior poet. Living the nerd life. A farm boy at heart who moonlights in cosplay on the weekends. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.