Last week I was driving in my car, listening to the sweet sounds of Guy Raz and friends on TED Talks Radio Hour. The talk was on wisdom. (It was an old one… I download old episodes and listen in my car because – nerd.)
Wisdom has always been a driving force in my life. I have always felt older than I am, and along the way several people have told me that I am much wiser than my years. So it struck me that the first guest on this show on wisdom did her first TED talk at twelve years old.
The TED talk happened in 2010, so by the time this interview took place, she was 18 – but they always include snippets of the original TED talk, so I was able to hear her speak and her message when she was only twelve years old.
Now let’s pause this for a minute to say: I am not a kid person. I don’t love children. You know how some people do? They fawn over kids and love their innocence and think they’re just so precious.
That is not me. I like kids for like a couple of hours, tops. I get my dose of cuteness and then I’m always relieved when they poop and someone else takes them away.
So imagine my surprise when I started listening to this twelve year old girl’s talk and realized: shit. This girl is awesome. She became not a “twelve year old girl,” but a human, discussing how wisdom is not age-discriminant and how adults quickly shun the idea of kids, thinking that they know better. She advocated for speaking to children like adults, for giving them more credit than they have, for asking them to be involved in decisions and rules rather than having them imposed upon them.
She backed it up by discussing how adults are often quick to call each other childish, and quick to start a world war, and quick to stop listening to each other when political agendas are strong. She discussed how children have no boundaries, how they play together without agendas and how free they are from fear of judgment, which allowed her to ask to give a TED talk at twelve years old in the first place (free of official degrees or certifications speaking to her qualifications to be there).
The 18-year-old version of the girl discussed how it is different. That people now do judge. That as a child you get free reign, but when you’re an adult people stop taking you so seriously when you don’t have resume lines and degrees and ten years’ work experience.
All of this struck me. At what point do we turn ourselves from free-spirited, nonjudgemental children into asshole critiquing adults? When do we stop allowing our imaginations to take over and delve into the world of “what’s possible” to follow what we know of history and take on a more cynical view?
And is my dislike of children associated with my dislike of my own inability to be free, my judgment of myself for needing the approval of others, my own parameters and expectations I’ve set for myself and for others?
Anyway, as I’ve discussed before, I’m not the greatest stepmom in the world. But what I have noticed in this five year journey of psuedo-parenting, is that I genuinely like my stepson. That my stepson has genuinely insightful ideas and thoughts, and when I can get him to step away from a video game for a moment or two and talk to me, I always learn something new. Which is all you can really ask of the world.
So, think about this.
- Where do you find and connect to your own wisdom?
- Do you find ways you block the wisdom of others?
- And if so – what in you denies the ability to connect to that wisdom?
Happy wisdom hunting.