Wisdom vs. Experience

I’m getting a little older now.  People have started asking me thoughtful question because they think I’m wise (Yeah, I think it’s funny too).  Having thought about it a little, I don’t consider myself wise as much as I do very experienced.  Is there a difference between wisdom and experience?  I think there is.

Experiences is defined as, practical contact with observation of facts or events.  Wisdom is defined as, the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement.  You will notice that experience is included in the definition of wisdom as well as knowledge and good judgement.  So, it seems that in order to gain wisdom, you must experience to gain knowledge but also have good judgment.  I am not known for having good judgement at times.  Experience now.  I have a lot of that.  Let’s look at some examples of how wise I truly am.

When I was a teenager, I use to hang out with a particular friend.  He wasn’t my best friend and if truth be told he was kind of a dick.  Knowing that he was a dick, you would think that I would be leery of anything that he told me.  I was young and sometimes my brains left me.  So, on one day when this friend told me to pee on this wire, my brain said “I’m out.”  I figured it was safe because he had just done it.  I know some of you are laughing already.  It’s funny now but finding out about an electric fence the hard way was no fun.  That’s one for experience.

I remember another time when my dad was teaching me to mow the lawn “the right way”.  When he showed me the first time, I didn’t get that you had to make straight lines every single time.  Who knew.  As my dad started to show me, the mower just stopped.  This was back in the days when you had to pull start mowers so my dad immediately started pulling on the starter.  He tried several times and nothing happened.  I didn’t know anything about mowers or motors so I just stood there and watched until I noticed that there was a covering sitting next to the spark plug.  Now I could have just pointed this out to my dad but that’s not the way my teenage mind worked.  In my mind, I thought I would just put the cover on the spark plug, the mower would start, and my dad would think what a smart kid he had.  Instead, the moment my hand touched the spark plug, my dad pulled on the starter.  All I remember is looking up at my dad and him asking me, “What’s wrong with you?” 

If you’re sensing a theme, you’re right.  Me and electricity don’t get along.  I’m surprised I haven’t been struck by lightening yet.  I have a few more examples I could give you but I think this is enough.  Through my many experiences with electricity, I have gained wisdom.  I even took a few industrial arts classes in junior high and high school and gained some knowledge about electricity.  However, to this day, I don’t mess with it.  If I have to install something in my house, I turn the power off to the whole house not just the room I’m working in.  Through experience and a little knowledge, I gain the wisdom not to play around with electricity.

So, if you look at the earlier definition of wisdom, I did gain some dealing with electricity.  However, you have probably gained a little knowledge about how my mind works.  I have gained a lot of wisdom but it has been at the cost of getting a lot of experience.  So, when people ask me if I think I am wise, I answer them, “No but I have a whole lot of experience.”

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