Friday, May 6, 2005

Looking back now, it's difficult to remember the origin of the conversation, but needless to say, my son Leo and I found ourselves having it. I remember saying to him, "Well, that may be smart, but it's not always wise? To which Leo responded with the age-old question, "What is the difference between smart and wise?"

Leo's most poignant understanding of the difference is from one of the final scenes in the 3rd sequel of the Indiana Jones series, "The Search for the Holy Grail." In brief, Indiana Jones' nemesis does not select the right chalice (Holy Grail) that was used by Christ at the Last Supper, but Indiana Jones does. To which the knight protecting the Grail states, "You have chosen wisely."

Thinking about it for a moment, I used this analogy:

"Let's say you're going to paint. Paint a room, paint a piece of furniture, paint a house, paint a picture - you choose. Of course, the two items you are going to need are paint and a paint brush. But what if you decided you only needed paint and no paint brush. You could easily throw the paint onto the room's walls or canvas or furniture. The area to be painted may be covered but it will not only look sloppy but also you will have ruined so many other items that are in the general facility of the area you're painting. It doesn't make sense, does it, Leo?"

"No," Leo responded, "that would be silly."

"And what if you decided to paint whatever it was you selected with only a paint brush?"

"Well, Daddy," said Leo, "what good would that do at all. You wouldn't need a paint brush without paint."

"That is exactly my point, Leo. Think of the paint as knowledge - information and data in all forms. Filling your head with that knowledge is what makes people smart. And think of the paint brush as wisdom. If we take what we've learned and just throw it all over the place - making decisions solely on data - then it's going to be sloppy and other things in the general vicinity will be ruined. But the paint brush - wisdom - is what we use to selectively apply the paint to specific rooms and areas of our life."

Leo thought about it for a moment and said, "And if we paint something well, we've chosen wisely."

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Post Note: When Leo is older, I'll share this story with him again. And then tell him, as I share with you today on our Morning Walk:

Smart is when you think with your head.
Wise is when you take what you've thought and apply it with your heart.
Smart is knowing the "how." Wise is knowing the "why."
- Lee Hoedl
hoedl's haven
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