Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Pearl 7: Strive for Balance . . . Anyway You Can Get It

Dearest Eliana and Gehrig,

Good Morning, Sweethearts!  What a glorious day it is here on Possum Kingdom Lake.  I can’t wait for you to come down to visit Grandma and me here in God’s Country….better known as Texas.  On this first visit your mom and dad probably won’t let me take you out on the waverunners and we may not even get a boat ride in, but I promise you, we will do all those things and more one fine day, God willing.

Why do I say, “God willing”?  Because we really can’t know what the future holds.  Sure, we plan for the future.  It is always a good idea to try to anticipate what is going to happen tomorrow or beyond.  We should always hold on to our dreams and aspirations and work to bring them to fruition.  Certainly we need to think about the future consequences of our actions and try to make good choices.  But as much as we would like to think we are in control, like a popular ad on TV this spring says, “Life come at you fast”.  It isn’t easy.

So what can we count on in life?  Some people count on their own intelligence.  Many of the basic tenants of the Koran, the Muslim’s bible, deal with knowledge and the pursuit of it.  They call it “Ild” and Muslims, during the golden age of Islam from the 9th through the 11th centuries, pursued knowledge in every field from science and math to business and trade, from astronomy and philosophy to art and literature.  During that period the people of the Middle Eastern countries led the world in discovery at a time when most of Europe was mired in a period described at the Dark Ages. The early Greeks were obsessed with knowledge, particularly as it related to philosophy, art, architecture and politics.  People who count on their intelligence to carry them through life study hard, they learn as much as they can about everything they can.  Their intellectual pursuits are a driving force in their lives.  It helps them make sense of things and is a big part of their image of self-worth.  To these people, being intelligent is prized above almost everything else.

Some people count on their common sense.  These are the people who just seem to know, intuitively, the right thing to do and say.  People with great common sense are the best listeners and, often, are great communicators as well.  They tend to have great empathy and compassion for others and strive for balance in their lives.  Many people with high levels of common sense tend to put the needs of others ahead of their own.  Intelligence and knowledge are important, but not the driving force in their lives.  So which is best, intelligence or common sense?  That brings me to my next pearl.

Seventh Pearl:  “Strive for Balance….Anyway You Can Get It”

Intelligence and common sense are not mutually exclusive.  Many people have both, although not necessarily in equal proportions.  The pursuit of knowledge is important.  Without it one would find it very difficult to be successful in this modern and fast-paced world.  This is why, when you graduate from high school, it is imperative you go to college and, perhaps, even pursue an advanced degree.  You will need it just to compete.
But intelligence is not a god.  Intelligence and knowledge are not panaceas and they certainly won’t make you the most popular person in the class or the star of the basketball team.  Albert Einstein, the enigmatic and brilliant scientist of the 20th Century, figured out how to explain the equivalence between energy and mass, in direct proportion to the square of the speed of light in a vacuum, but he often forgot to eat, comb his hair and tie his shoes.  He didn’t have the common sense God gave a goose and, to my knowledge, he never won a personality contest either.

Common sense is a gift although most people are born with it.  However, it is one of those things of which people say, “Use it or lose it”.  One must develop their common sense and work at honing its use in life’s daily routine.  One must pay attention to what others say, give alternate opinion a fair hearing, consider carefully any response and use good judgment when it is time for action.  Therein lays true wisdom.

When the great Hebrew King Solomon, rightly considered to be one of the wisest monarchs in history, was presented with a dilemma he often used common sense to solve it.  Two women came before his court with a dispute concerning rightful guardianship of an infant child.  Both women claimed the child belonged to them.  Each argued her case vehemently.  King Solomon then declared he could not determine which of the women had rightful claim, so he decreed the child should be cut in half with one half going to each of the women.  One woman agreed, but the other refused, saying the division would kill the child and she could not allow that to happen.  King Solomon then banished the woman who agreed from his kingdom and gave the child to the woman who refused, saying only the real mother would have given up her child rather than see it put to death. 

But can we depend on common sense alone to carry us through.  I think not.  It requires both knowledge and common sense to make it in this world and I hope you strive for both.  If you are a little short on knowledge but have bags of common sense, or vice versa, I hope you marry well.  Choose a partner with the strengths you don’t have in abundance and that way when the two of you become one, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.  How do I know that?  Because your Grandma Vicki and I are living proof.  And one of the reasons we will be celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary this year is because we both eventually recognized and valued the strengths we saw in each other and understood that both knowledge and common sense were essential to the relationship and our future.  We are a good balance.

So go for balance….study hard, sharpen your gift of common sense and marry well.  Of course, there is more to count on in life than this, but give me a break, I am only on the Seventh Pearl. 

I love you bunches and bunches,

Grandpa Jud

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