Growth Of Mind Is Like The Rings Of A Tree

It took me a long time to learn the difference between intelligence, cleverness and wisdom.

Second grade, outside the cafeteria during lunch, there was a dinosaur display. A sentence on the display read ‘The pterodactyl is a flying dinosaur’. A teacher walked up, looking very smug, and pointed to it.
“I bet you can’t tell me what that word is.”
“Pterodactyl,” I answered. His smug smile faded a bit, and then lit up again.
“No – that word is ‘a’.” He pointed to the ‘a’.

Intelligence told me how to pronounce pterodactyl, and also taught me at the time that adults were assholes. This philosophy I carried until I was in high school. (Don’t get me wrong – I still think that about a lot of adults.)

Cleverness taught me later that it was possible he had planned that response the whole time, just in case. It was better to be clever than to be intelligent, because obviously cleverness can defeat intelligence. This philosophy I carried for a long time until recently.

For whatever reason, stray thoughts led me to consider this scenario once more recently. I realized that he hadn’t planned on me knowing how to pronounce pterodactyl at all. He was caught off guard. And he wasn’t being clever at all. He was merely saving face. He was pretending to have planned that the whole time. He was actually embarrassed.

Wisdom taught me that people will go to great lengths to save face and protect their image. No one wants to be wrong. No one wants to be taken by surprise and be made a fool of by someone they feel superior to. People will take great pains to twist any situation to favor themselves. If he had simply said ‘correct. Good job.’ or something similar, I wouldn’t be thinking about it right now.

What I’ve been thinking about:

Is there something after wisdom?


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