Illustration Friday - Wisdom
The quest for Wisdom is perhaps as old as humankind. People have prayed, meditated, fasted, consulted holy men on mountaintops, read volumes of self-help books, called the psychic hotline, and even snacked on forbidden fruit... all in the hope of gaining Wisdom. But as Adam and Eve quickly learned... Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. It's easy enough to gain knowledge, but Wisdom is an elusive creature. And as with all things elusive, it's important to be ready to recognize Wisdom when it unexpectedly stares you in the eyes.
It was the summer when I was ten while I was in Canada with my grandmother visiting some relatives that I had my first encounter with Wisdom in the form of an ancient bullfrog named Herbert. It was late afternoon, and I was feeling very down in the dumps. I had no one to play with - the adults were thoroughly occupied drinking Bloody Marys and smoking Craven A's, and my much adored and idolized older cousin was off doing teenager stuff with her crowd of friends. Bored, restless and lonely, I decided to go down to the lake for a swim. Perhaps there would be some kids down there who would let me swim with them.
I dove off the dock and splashed around, looking to see if there were any kids out on the float that I could play with. No luck; I was by myself. I began to think that this was the worst vacation I'd ever had. I was too young to fit in with the grownups and my cousin's friends, but too old to be fussed over and entertained. Even my grandmother, my wonderful friend who always talked to me and told me stories, didn't seem to have the time to say anything except, Remember your manners.
Manners...who cares! I sulked out loud, I want to go home. I hate it here! I stuck my head under the water, dove to the bottom, and swam along the floor of the lake until I felt like my chest would explode for lack of air. I emerged, coughing, by the grassy shore next to a neighbor's dock. This really stinks... I continued my complaint as I rested my back against the bank. It didn't help; I felt even worse than before.
Her-bert. I heard a guttural voice inches from my ear. I turned around, but at first all I saw was a big bumpy, slimy lump that looked like wet grass and moss. Her-bert, the lump said. I rubbed the water out of my eyes, and as they focused, I found myself staring into the eyes of the biggest bullfrog I had ever seen. He was the size of a small cat, and looked very, very old. He blinked his eyes. A fly buzzed his head and his red tongue instantaneously snapped it up. Life is good, he croaked, and took a flying leap into the water, landing with a huge plop! that sent rings shimmering out from where he entered the water.
I swam back to my cousins' dock, wondering if I had really heard that bullfrog speak. It didn't matter though - for some reason I felt much better. And to this day, whenever I feel as if nothing's going the way I had planned, I think of old Herbert the bullfrog snapping up the fly and saying, Life is good. He might have been just a frog, but those were true words of Wisdom. Life is good. I have to agree!