Position for Wisdom

You know the trope of the wise old guru on top of a mountain, dispensing timeless enlightenment only to those who can achieve the difficult physical feat of reaching his distant location?

Here’s the thing. I’ve done really difficult, strenuous long-term activities like mountain climbing. By the time you’re done – done the planning and preparation, done the mental readiness, done the incredibly difficult physical task itself – you are pretty much already enlightened. At the end of a journey like that, you’re in the best possible mental state you’re ever going to be in.

If, right at that moment, a figure with an air of wisdom and a little mystery says something cryptic and cool to you, it’s basically just hitching itself to that wagon. You’ll associate the resulting sense of divine spirituality to the “wisdom,” but really you feel that way because you just climbed a goddamned mountain, not because a dude in a robe told you to “turn the outer eye within” or some junk.

There are two lessons here. The first lesson is that there will always be someone else who wants to capitalize on your hard work to pretend they had something to do with it, or to associate themselves with the results, or whatever. Most of your enlightenment will come from you trying hard stuff until you succeed.

The second lesson is that there really is something to be said for speaking when people are most receptive. You don’t have to use that power for evil – you can just be aware that the best time to give a speech is between everyone’s second and third drinks or right after they’ve just gotten some other reward, and not when they just stubbed their toe.

Just make sure you actually have something valuable to say.

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