Steps Toward Wisdom

by Kevin Foster

A resident on Florida’s death row for many years, Kevin is currently writing several books and has a penchant for science fiction.

When I was six, I wanted to be a cowboy, riding the range. At eight I wanted to be a fireman, rushing in to save the day. By ten, a soldier, finding glory on some far-flung battlefield.

As a teenager I merely wanted to unlock carnal mysteries of the flesh. To explore those hormone fueled passions. Dreaming one day of being rich and successful, all to further the goal of status and conquest. By the time I became an adult, I wanted to take on the world and force it to do my bidding.

I believe a lot of us have a stack of things we wish we’d done. But as that famous old quote says, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” I never became a working cowboy, although I did ride the range a few times. I never became an official soldier, although all my adult life has been at war. I did manage to spend some lovely years being educated by smarter, more sensual ladies, but I never did take on the world. Instead life threw me a curve ball, and I struck out. At least as far as society is concerned.

We all grow up being browbeat with the idea that it’s society’s opinion that matters. It does, but only in a court of law.

The rest of the time we unfortunately spend a lifetime working to acquire things just so we feel accomplished, instead of doing things that would actually make us accomplished. We trade the most valuable commodity in the universe, time, for pieces of fictional value. Be they paper dollars or digital cents. All so we can meet society’s expectations of what successful looks like. Often wondering why we feel ever less fulfilled, less connected.

It isn’t until we start those few shaky wobbling steps towards wisdom that we understand things don’t really matter. Connections and experiences matter. Our souls need connection, whether you’re a believer who understands the unity of all life or a strict Darwinian atheist. After all, primates are distinctly social creatures. The point is that gaining wisdom allows you to step back and re-evaluate what is truly important, and I can tell you it’s not chasing dollar bills.

When the end comes, we never say, “Oh, I wished I’d have worked a few more hours.” Instead we lament the time wasted, hearts aching because we didn’t make amends, mend fences, or just plain spend time with a loved one.

If we would just realize that sooner, before it’s too late, we could find so much more joy in life, even if it is in a lower tax bracket. So feed the little kid inside of you who wanted to be a fireman or artist or soldier or doctor, because nine times out of ten, that little version of you knew something the adult you has forgotten, your heart yearns to be creative and helpful.

Just listen to it.

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