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Innocence Dwells With Wisdom

Innocence Dwells With Wisdom

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is going to a counselor for advice about her current living situation. The detail of her problem is beyond the scope of this blog. However, her therapist was asking her to change her behavior in a way that is counter to her intuition about herself and what she (my friend) believes. I told her that all therapists tend to recommend behaviors that are in accord with their (the therapist's) own personal worldviews, not what is in accord with their patient's constructions. Then a story came to my mind. One that occurred in my life when I was seven years old. I told her the tale to give her a sense of what she might do in her situation.

It was in the winter of 1963, my father and grandmother decided that we would spend our Christmas Holiday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We packed his midnight blue 1963 Oldsmobile Starfire convertible to the brim with food, three children, two adults, clothes and our miniature poodle Mickey and began the adventure. My father drove straight through to our destination from Detroit. He only stopped for coffee and bathroom breaks. He smoked. When he lit up a cigarette, I got nauseated and had a headache. My grandmother would tell him to put his cigarette out because it was stinking up the car. He did. But after my grandmother's fury and the smoke cleared, he would try it again. And she would tell him again to put the cigarette out. It was a miserable trip to our destination and an equally miserable trip back home.

While we were on holiday, my father took us to a famous ice cream parlor. I think the name of the joint was Wolfie's. But I could be mistaken. We walked into the store, and there were fifty or more flavors of ice cream. I had no idea that ice cream could be made with so many exotic flavors. I remember Boo Boo Peach, Terrific Mango and ten different nut flavors. I walked up and down the aisle looking at each flavor, reading their names and wondering what would that taste like? After about ten minutes, my frustrated father looked at me, "Kiki we can't wait all day. What flavor do you want?" My reply was swift, "Chocolate." My dad looked at me and said, "That's it? Chocolate? All these flavors and you pick Chocolate? Why?" Again, my reply was almost instantaneous, "Because it's my favorite!"

The wisdom of innocence can sometimes be profound. How many flavors of ice cream must one taste before one finds their favorite? Sometimes, it might be just one.

William Blake held the notion that life was divided into innocence and/or experience. He believed that innocence dwelled with wisdom, but never with ignorance. Parents fill their child's life with gestures and words that build a fundamental trust in the world and everything in it. But if we examine the world closely, the world is predominantly untrustworthy. We live in a world that will deliver every kind of pain and suffering possible, especially if we venture out and experience life. The world of innocence is filled with the highest good, the most tenderness, sympathy and empathy and sometimes immense joy. Although parents want to challenge their children, they should do so with the intent of inspiration, not preaching to the congregation.

As we experience the world and take the risks of opportunity, many of us become haunted by loneliness, frustration, cruelty and rejection. We are constantly reminded that everything that sparkles is not gold. It is the experience of life that broadens our morality, widens our scope of understanding and it can destroy our trust in anything or anyone. As people mature and experience life, laws become necessary to define the boundaries of proper behavior since without them, many would assume all actions are sanctioned regardless of their consequences. It is an unfortunate fact of life that as we mature, we become less open, more closed and much more narrow minded separating us from the innocent child extending a hand to a wounded animal.

So why did I tell my friend the story of the ice cream? Because her therapist was asking her to do something that was against her moral code, to choose a path in life although temporarily, that would give her an opportunity to experience life more than she had pervious. But the very idea of the change made her nauseated, she was told to eat Boo Boo Peach ice cream instead of her favorite flavor, Chocolate. The usual human maturation process is hard enough as we deal with the natural experiences that come our way. If someone asks you to change your behavior and forget your favorite flavor and try a series of others to pick a new one, run. It is not necessary to place your hand on a hot electric stove burner to know it will burn you as soon as you touch it, although experiencing it will forever cement that encounter deep within your mind of things never to do again.

If you are in a situation where someone offers you many alternative solutions, my advice is simple: choose your favorite flavor, you can never go wrong. Trust that you know what's best for you, even at a time when someone you have given authority to suggests otherwise. Innocence dwells with wisdom but never with ignorance.

You don't have to experience something to know it isn't going to be good for you.

Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:07 AM
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