My senses were delighted recently as I helped to celebrate another year in the life of a beautiful friend of mine. This most vivacious of women is from Botswana in Africa and has been in Australia for just over 1 year.
As the men chatted outside and the children chased each other around the house, I sat in a circle of eight wonderfully intelligent women all with Botswanan heritage. They spoke a mix of English and Setswana, as we chatted about life, babies, husbands, careers, food and whatever else we could think up. One of the ladies would graciously interpret for me as needed. Every now and then we had a laugh at my inability to decipher some of the English when disguised by the rich Botswanan accent.
One aspect of the conversation that I found particularly fascinating was about the cultural practices that many of these women or their parents grew up with. They reminisced and laughed about the seeming craziness of some traditions, but also the beauty and richness of others. It was interesting to hear how they adapt different ways of thinking to living in Australia.
It got me thinking about ‘wisdom’.
What do we think of as wisdom? Where do we learn our ‘wisdoms’ from?
Within our families, cultures or even peer groups, we have our own ‘wisdoms’. These are the principles that help us make sense of our worlds and keep them running smoothly. They make up our knowledge base, help us to make good choices and to think intuitively. They give us insight into life’s dilemmas in which we have no personal experience.
Being immersed in a group of women with different upbringings from myself was exciting. It took me out of my comfort zone into a place of wonder and challenge; a place where I could see other possibilities.
It prompted me to question some of my own cultural ‘wisdoms’ – the practices and ideas that I accept as normal or proper that could actually be holding me back from reaching my potential.
Being wise, showing discernment and making good decisions relies on solid knowledge and understanding, but perhaps it is also about being open to new horizons and other ‘wisdoms’. We can be energised, challenged and encouraged when we intentionally build relationships and then listen and learn from one another.
No one person, family or culture has the monopoly on wisdom, so how about we engage with each other with inquiring minds and open hearts?