How do you impart wisdom?
I thought about this a lot over the Thanksgiving holiday, spending quality time with my 19-year-old and 21-year-old. Life is permanent to them, fleeting to me. My daughter expressed her abject boredom with having to read a Faulkner short story, “A Rose for Emily,” a Southern gothic tale about the mysterious Miss Emily, who’s rarely seen by her neighbors until they learn upon her death that she had poisoned a reluctant boyfriend and slept with his corpse for years.
I read it along with her, on my laptop while she bore down on a highlighter in her thick English textbook. I gasped as I read the story, wishing that somehow one of my college professors had assigned this same story to me as a long-ago English/Journalism major. My daughter just sighed.
Wisdom. Wasted on our youth.
That’s why I love filmmaker Andrew Zuckerman’s latest project, “Wisdom,” a film and an accompanying book that simply lets the elders of our world speak about this elusive trait. Filmed against a striking white backdrop, those interviewed by Zuckerman include painter Andrew Wyeth; actors Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Alan Arkin; singer/composer Bernice Johnson Reagon; tennis star Billie Jean King; South African activist Desmond Tutul; African writer Chinua Achebe; Australian politician Malcolm Fraser; Henry Kissinger; and British designer/retailer Terence Conran, among others.
The big book, with portraits of all the wise speakers, is worth considering. Particularly for your children, soon-to-be graduates, or even for your family elders with wisdom in their aging bones. Here is the trailer for the film, which can be viewed in its entirety at wisdombook.org. You can also find more information about the book at the same site.