Philosophy means, in Ancient Greek, the love of wisdom. But the word wisdom can sound very big and forbidding; what does it really mean to be wise? And how might we consciously strive to be a little wiser?

Have you ever dreamed of conquering Mount Everest? You lace up your boots, pull on your gloves, and tackle the dangerous, elusive climb. Wisdom is just like that—a mountain peak shrouded in clouds, a mystery waiting to be unraveled.

Many will tell you that wisdom is not as straightforward as being healthy or kind, but I’m here to tell you that it’s worth the climb. Like an experienced mountaineer, a wise person sees life’s terrain in all its complexities and ruggedness. They face life’s storms with a resolve as solid as a granite cliff face, knowing that storms may rage, but they always pass. And when they do, every ray of sunshine is savored, every bloom enjoyed.

Being wise is like being an anthropologist in the bizarre land of self-discovery. Wise people explore their own psyche, charting the irrational contours and oddities with keen interest. In the funhouse of life, where our reflections stretch and distort in weird ways, the wise person grins. They see the humor in the human carnival, embracing the silliness of the ride.

Now, think of the wise as world-class diplomats in the realm of social interaction. They know when to hold their tongue, handling criticisms like unsheathed swords, ready for battle but kept in reserve. They see perspectives as a kaleidoscope, each turn revealing a different pattern, always looking for the shared design rather than the discordant pieces.

Wisdom is like a peaceful lake under the moonlight, its calm surface reflecting acceptance. Wise folks view their flaws not as unsightly scars but as unique features in their personal landscape. They see others not as antagonists in their story, but as fellow travelers—each lugging their own weighty baggage. This understanding gives birth to empathy, allowing forgiveness to take root where judgment might have sprung.

And let’s not forget the dance with Lady Luck and the wrestling match with Father Time. Wisdom is understanding that life’s grand lottery doesn’t always draw your number, and life’s timeline might be a squiggly line rather than a perfect arc. But regret, like a seasoned coach, has valuable lessons to impart. The wise learn to see their errors not as permanent ink blots but as essential strokes in their masterpiece.

So yes, wisdom is a mountain—lofty and grand. It’s a climb that can leave you breathless, knees scraped, and palms sweaty. But at the end of the day, wisdom is not about the perfect view from the top. It’s about the lessons learned along the path, the peace found in a quiet moment, and the calm acceptance of life’s beautiful imperfections.

Let’s get climbing.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.