I was asked to explain wisdom to a class of high school kids, because I am a poet and assumed to possess more wisdom than bankers or lawyers or septic tank cleaners or baseball stadium hot dog venders.

I formed a mental picture of wisdom to fuel a thousand words that I may speak to the class of creative writing students waiting to be enlightened, pretty sure all I have for them is forty-five minutes of catch phrase bullshit.

Knowing my personal wisdom was limited to my personal experience and the philosophy and science books I read over the years, I scribbled random thoughts on cafe napkins, then organized those napkins at home into a stack. I unstacked those thoughts as I typed them up and added photo images to illustrate a budding point especially dear to me.

The day of the class visit arrived and I tucked my papers and laptop into my highly reflective backpack. The number ten bus jostled down the road, and delivered me to within a block of the school, an alternative school—though alternative to what, I do not know.

That gave me a last moment pause, wondering if these students required an alternative wisdom.

The show must go on in the human theater even if these are creative writing students. After the introduction, I greeted them replaced my papers and laptop into my backpack. I stood stock still, mum through the time limit. My eyes met their expectant eyes, their disaffected eyes, their sleep deprived droopy eyes, their you’re stupid eyes, their lunch is next hour eyes.

After fifteen minutes of no words, a girl in the second row broke into a smile, stood and turned, shushed the others when they began to snicker, to chitchat, to text on smart phones.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This piece is made up, a fiction. Although I have done poetry workshops in high schools, I have never been asked to give my views on wisdom to a high school class, knitting groups, book clubs, a baseball stadium filled with fans, or friends late at night when people loosen up and reveal themselves.

I do believe that the foundation of wisdom is silence. Silence in not saying too much, especially things you do not really know. And silence means that stillness in your heart and soul.

I believe most people do not appreciate the difference between knowing and believing. Jumping to conclusions, especially false conclusions, is a great basis for a TV drama script, but not for wisdom.

Letting go of ego is a tool to achieving wisdom as well. Some of you might think it odd that “letting go of ego” is a tool toward something else and not an end in its own right. My experience is that it is an early step to many worth while things on this earth.

Enough philosophy for a Wednesday morning.

Have a productive day.

Love & Light


2 thoughts on “Key

  1. I ever aspire to join the fictional girl in the poem who smiles knowingly, and who stands inside that expansive space which only silence can hold.


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