© 2024 Interlochen
CLASSICAL IPR | 88.7 FM Interlochen | 94.7 FM Traverse City | 88.5 FM Mackinaw City IPR NEWS | 91.5 FM Traverse City | 90.1 FM Harbor Springs/Petoskey | 89.7 FM Manistee/Ludington
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Essays by Karen Anderson: Piece of Wisdom

Illustration by Kacie Brown

I was invited to a fiftieth birthday party a while ago and told to bring a piece of wisdom as a gift. This seemed like a great idea to me, a benefit not only to the guest of honor but to all the participants.

The party was outdoors on a beach, so we built a bonfire and then stood in a large circle to share our pieces of wisdom. I had even brought a little notebook so I could keep ideas for future reference. But as I listened to what people were saying, I felt as if I’d heard it all before—on Hallmark cards and inspirational posters.

And I was reminded of my father who liked to sound wise but only repeated worn-out clichés. “Don’t rock the boat,” he’d say. “Toot your own horn.” “Birds of a feather…” “If wishes were horses...” Now, there might have been some truth in these statements but it wasn’t his truth, based on his life.

So, I put my little notebook in my pocket and wondered why nobody spoke from experience? Were we afraid to claim our own hard-won wisdom? To trust ourselves? Was it easier to hide behind something impersonal and familiar?

When my turn came, I said, “I’ve learned that sometimes you have to rock the boat. Sometimes you even have to tip it over.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.