I was recently given an assignment in a class I attended; a suggestion that left me puzzled and confused. We were to write about a search for our own wiser selves. Guidelines were given; a walk down a shadowed path to a woodsy clearing, a meeting, the wiser self welcoming us, her appearance, and most importantly, a gift she would give each of us.
Well! Heady stuff for someone who wasn’t even aware of a wiser self. Could it be? I thought I was the only “ME” I am. The possibility of finding another “ME,” wiser or dumber, older or younger, tall, short, fat or thin was tempting. But how to go about such a search? And did I really want to?
Being a wiser self became a scary thought. What about changes to the basic “ME?” True, I could use a few more IQ points, quite a few in fact, but would this be an improvement? Is wiser smarter?
The family reaction would be predictable: My son and daughters; “Mom, you’ve gotten so absent-minded lately. What’s up?” I answer, “Well, you see, I’m on this search…”
Raised eyebrows and whispered conferences behind the door: “Is this it? The BIG A? What’ll we do with her? She’ll never go willingly.”
My sister and brother comment: “We always thought she was a little screwy but this is getting out of hand. What on earth does she think she’ll find?”
My grandchildren giggle: “Gigi, you’re so funny. We love you just the way you are.”
Heartwarming but hardly helpful.
I become obsessed with the idea of a wiser self. I search in my mirror, wondering how ancient I would have to be to finally achieve true wisdom. And what form would it take? A toothless, haggard crone streaming advice and criticism to everyone in my orbit? If I were really wise would I have sense enough to keep my mouth shut?
A wiser self might cure me of chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome and a tendency toward bossiness. Maybe she could help me with the morning crosswords and my income tax. My check book might balance! The possibilities seem endless.
Another look in the mirror. The “ME” looking back is a little blurry this time, and I blink, panicky because I don’t know what is expected of me. Can’t I just keep on being plain old me?
And before I forget, my wiser self is to present me with a gift, presumably something precious and rare. What could it be? What would I really want? Gems and costly metals? Health, happiness, longevity, love everlasting?
Back to my mirror which by now is getting smeared and foggy. I take another long look, deep into my eyes. This time I don’t blink, and it all becomes clear. The greatest gift I could wish for would be contentment and peace of mind.
I am just who I am, and always will be.
Thank you, wiser self.