Small talk has never been my thing. I can recall many first conversations with people where midway through the conversation they’ll say something to the effect of, “Wait, why am I telling you this?”

My wife’s uncle Jerry and I share this trait. He has no clue what I do for a living or what I think of the current President. He’s very quiet for the most part, but enjoys waltzing into a room and asking some thought-provoking question.

What’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

“Wisdom is knowledge applied.” I blurted out, excited that I had this quote in the database.

He replied, “You could have the knowledge to jump off a bridge, then apply it.”

Damnit! I thought. Yes, you could have the knowledge of how to split an atom, then apply it and it may not exactly be the wisest thing in the world.

The Princeton English Dictionary defines wisdom as: “Accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment.”

This definition would rate Cliff Claven from Cheers right up there with Gandolf.

As wisdom goes, my dog trumps all humans I know. I can’t count how many arguments I’ve had with my wifebut all of them—where I’ve looked down at the dog, sitting there in silence, wagging her tail, and thought, “She is so wise!”

Perhaps wisdom is unconditional love. My dog isn’t necessarily being wise by applying knowledge that she has accumulated, but by loving unconditionally.

Now, the “wisdom is knowledge applied” definition works if I were to learn (gain knowledge) from my dog and the next time a potential argument arises choose to sit there, shut up, and apply unconditional love.

The definition would be infallible if modified slightly:

Wisdom is knowledge discerned then applied.

Though I think the original quote assumes the reader isn’t stupid enough to jump off a bridge.

The word of the day is “wisdom.” Know it. Apply it.

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