Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Elephants remember. They remember where the water is in the dry season. That's a wise thing to have linger.

Elephants remember. They remember where the water is in the dry season. That’s a wise thing to have linger in your mind, especially when you are thirsty!

What does that mean?
This is another one of those classic quotes. Short but sweet, and exactly on point. This quote starts by saying what we all know. “Knowledge comes” it says.

Knowledge is everywhere. We learn all kinds of things, or at least we are exposed to it. However, we don’t always retain that knowledge. And that can be a problem.

The quote concludes with “wisdom lingers.” While the knowledge that slips away disappears from our minds, that which stays becomes wisdom.

By his definition, wisdom is the accumulation of the bits of knowledge which we have retained. As the knowledge lingers, we remember, and we act, and we become wise.

Why is retaining knowledge important?  
If we don’t retain the knowledge from our attempts, how will we do better next time? What about the times when we try something, get a promising result, and then have to try to remember exactly what we did? Life can be challenging, and it is more so if you are scatter-brained.

I’m that way. So I tend to write things down. Especially when it is an important experiment or a result that is important to me. Very few people remember everything. Most of us forget or fail to retain much knowledge. That’s why search engines and books are so popular.

We forget things. We fail to retain all the information. How do you determine what you are going to retain? It takes effort, and not every bit of knowledge is worth the effort. We all have our quirks. Some can’t remember their password, but can sing every song off their favorite album.

But what we forget, we have to re-do. Again and again. Until we get it figured out. Eventually, we might even remember it. Until then, we’re wasting a lot of time and effort, right? Is that an important enough reason to try to retain useful knowledge?

Where can I apply this in my life?
I can imagine that it has probably happened to you. You’ve hit a dead end, and you ask for help. They do it for you, or show you briefly. You do it, and it’s done. Great. But two weeks later, it happens again. That’s long enough ago to have forgotten. The knowledge came, but then it left.

If you can retain that knowledge, you can fix it yourself the next time the situation occurs. You have become wise, and others may ask you how to fix that problem. That’s both a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? Because too many of them don’t retain the information. They just remember you can fix it.

What do you tend to forget? What do you have to do over a few times before you remember how to do it correctly? Perhaps a pesky password which is always slipping out of your mind when you aren’t paying attention? The name of the person you work with, or your favorite server at your favorite restaurant?

It turns out I’m also bad with names. One way I have found to remember or retain the knowledge of the name of a person is to use their face. I’m good at remembering faces. If I meet someone named Joe, I think of the first person named Joe who comes to mind.

That part is pretty easy, right? Now I imagine that face merging with the face in front of me. Next time I see that face, I also see the other face, and I know the name of the other face, therefore that face must share that same name. Sounds weird, but it works for me.

This quote implies that we have two challenges when we come across a new bit of knowledge. The first is the determination of the importance of the information. Is it worthy of the effort to retain it? Or will you just let it slip away?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer, even for the same data. As an engineer, I needed to remember some trigonometry. However my chemistry was of no real use. At the end of the year, I retained the trig, and flushed the chemistry. My wife was the exact opposite, her life is chemistry, and trig is of no use to her.

The second is how do we retain the information? How do we make knowledge stick around long enough to help us gain some wisdom in that subject? There are plenty of books and online resources to help you with that. Anything from taking notes on you phone or handy notepad to ways to train your brain.

We all forget things. We even manage to remember some of them. What are you going to retain those things you wish to add to your great big pile of wisdom? You can always ask it to sit down and stay a while. That’ll work, right? 8)

From: Twitter, @Zen_Moments
confirmed at :
Photo by Stefan Krasowski

Happy Birthday to Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS. Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland Born 6 August 1809.

About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in choice, decision, failure, knowledge, repetition, wisdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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