Why all the ‘How-To’s are really ‘What-To’s, and what I’m going to do about it.

Consider the average citizen.  Socialized by ubiquitous television, standardized schooling, and carefully edited sound bites he comes to embrace a shockingly unremarkable set of behaviors.  Insulated by the echo chamber of contemporary media and congenial conversation, he rarely engages unsympathetic ideas or impulses, except to mock them, or perhaps sadly shake his head.  All his decisions are foregone conclusions.  Easy middle-class morality, commercials, force of habit supply the input–and behavior results.

Now, few people are as average as all that.  Our passions and our causes differentiate and invigorate us more or less.  For a few important things we will stir ourselves, really think and really act.

This is the challenge: Think and act.  Just a little more than you did yesterday.  Every day.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

“Hey!” you object.  “Who is this ‘Mother Wit’, to insult the average citizen?”

I am a fellow traveler on the way.  Many of the things I will blog about here I am currently thrashing out in my own life.  It can be a long road to:

  • see a truth
  • understand it
  • know how to implement it for yourself
  • be able to communicate it to others

It doesn’t always happen in that order.  It has taken me roughly 35 years at playing around with writing to believe I had learned something worth sharing that hasn’t already been said better elsewhere.  What have I learned?

Everybody tells you what to do.  Your parents, your teachers, your pastor,  your doctor.  OTHER people’s parents, teachers, pastors, doctors.  Your boss, your husband, wife, kids.  The guy in the coffee shop.  Blogs.  Books.  But how many people tell you how to do it?  Oh, sure, there’s a million how-to guides.  But they never really tell you how-to, they only tell you what-to, in order to achieve some end.  But how do you actually follow the how-tos?  How many times have you tried and failed?

I’ll be talking about how to do the things you already know to do.  Build yourself into the you you want to be, were meant to be.

  • How to think and how to think for yourself
  • Habits and what to do about them
  • Where to look for wisdom
  • The difference between work and play

There may be more urgent issues or more important truths but, as C.S. Lewis said,  I will go where I see the line is thinnest.

Some of these are ideas long forgotten and due for a revival, some will be from the newest corners of the internet.  Some are from my own observations.  They will all be filtered through my own mother wit.

“…every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his storeroom new treasures and old.”  

Matthew 13:52

 

 

Welcome to Mother Wit

Many times when we get talking about parenting, politics, or philosophy, at some point in the conversation, one of my girls will say to me, “Mom, you should write a book!”

Well, a book may be beyond me at this season of life, but I might be able to carve out enough time for a blog.  Watch this space for weekly(?) ruminations, perhaps even essays, from my brainspace.

April 5, 1974

The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In the dull pasture where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch, and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law?
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream,
There was a subtle flood of steam
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter’s giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.

by Richard Wilbur

❀❀❀❀❀❀❀