The Myth of the Courtship of Wisdom

Legend has it that once there were three deities who were the cradle to the nature of humanity: Memory, Passion and Reason.

Reason, the youngest of the three, was muse to the weavings of logic. She was garbed in the calm composure of her temperament, and her thinking was measured and refined. Poised and pragmatic, she was slow to action, yet immovable in her decisions once made. Her control and confidence was the mark of her near flawless beauty, with features both angular and perfect.

Passion embodied the surrender to emotion and impulse. Bold, daring, and charismatic, his wild abandon to instinct was what afforded him his smouldering appeal. His handsome features were carved from the primal forces of desire, and fervour with fire was ensconced in his heart as it flowed and trembled through the powerful limbs of his body. And to look upon him was to enraptured by ecstasy and elation.

Memory was the eldest, and most reserved of the three. She was the mother to mystery, and the shepherdess of secrets. In her eyes lay a timeless allure that seduced with the gentle promise of reminiscence. Yet, her mood was mercurial and in her lay harboured the contradictions of all man. She appeared clothed in both an enduring vulnerability, and resolute strength. And to look upon her was to experience the longing for what was lost… but not forgotten.

One fateful day, news reached the three of a formidable presence venturing close to the borders of their realm. Memory felt hesitant, but eager to seek out this soul. She knew this to be Wisdom: the patron of all sages; the envy and bane of philosophers; and the idol of wanderers who quest for purposes they alone know. She shared this knowledge, with both her brother and sister. It was with great zeal that Passion wished to quest to the border to meet this Wisdom, his curiosity burning with white hot intensity as to a renown that challenged his own. Reason was drawn to investigate the unknown faculties of thought held by another, bemused by the sudden presence of Wisdom near their lands.

Long had the three sought worthy lovers within their realm, but their search for companionship did not reward them their coveted pursuits. For Memory found no soul of present thought or craft to be as powerful as past remembrance; Passion could find no equal to satiate the cravings of the heart, the flesh, and the spirit; and Reason could find no challenge to her wit among the tedious flights of fancy held by man or immortal. They would thus seek out this Wisdom. Surely the folktales, the fables, the fantasies and the falsehoods were testament to some eminent value of his being. If all tales held true, each one thought, then such reverence embodied would surely be worthy of their affection and admiration.

Each knowing of the intents of the other, and confident in their self-made prophecies at being chosen as his or her spouse, the three quested to find Wisdom. They were mindful however, of the dangers in treading far from their home – as uncertainty hung as a mist over the lands that lay beyond.

They journeyed along the rough-hewn trek of road that stretched across the vast landscape. Amidst the quiet sound of their footfalls, the three heard only their own thoughts taking shape among the ruminations which surmised the possibilities of meeting Wisdom. Many a tale reached the ear of those who sought out his divinity. Wisdom: the bearer of a spellbinding beauty; of a knowledge that surmounted to the wealth accrued across countless lifetimes; and of a standing unmatched by either kings or gods. For Passion, the thrill of desire was fuelling his pursuit. He had heard of Wisdom’s great power in snaring the heart, and his many talents at satiating the unbridled needs of his many lovers. Reason was envious of the possession of great intellect, believing that Wisdom might share many of the divine secrets over which all man started and ended wars, and thus unlock her pursuit to unrivaled knowledge. Memory sought to regain the joys lost in the traces of the past, longing to experience yet again the sensorial pleasures of fond remembrances.

The journey was however arduous, and the dangers preceded in the warnings they held took its shape. Along the road, each came to confront a near insurmountable challenge, of which their fellowship remained ignorant. Reason endured the whispers of shapeless and deluded voices that grew to banshee howls echoing through her mind. Passion was battered by the assualt of invisible beasts that clawed at flesh and spirit, unable to tame or drive them off as they continued to renew their attack. Memory was stricken with great illness which worsened along the way, an ailment of which she bore no knowledge of cure nor of nature. With Reason driven mad, Passion at the brink of exhaustion, and Memory afflicted and unwell, the journey brought them to a fog-dimmed crossroads past which no prediction could be made. And at their arrival, the troubling forms of their nightmares and neuroses ceased… and faded to the nether.

Huddled beneath the signpost was a greyclad hermit, aged and withered by the touch of many seasons. At the behest of Reason, the grizzled figure announced himself as the herald to Wisdom. Relieved, the three were revived by their individual pursuits. The ancient one stated that Wisdom would present himself only to those who were deemed worthy. Visitors to the crossroads were required to present with a gift to the herald, of which the value of the giver would be weighed and determined. Then, they need choose the road along which Wisdom would eventually be found. The road to the right curved back to the safety of their realm, but was untroubled by the dangers that befell them on their way. The left lead to uncharted borders, where pleasure untold rewarded the brave. The road that winded straight held the certainties of the future, forever quelling the questions that plagued all of mankind.

After careful thinking and judgement, Reason presented a tome that held her own valued theories on life, knowledge untarnished by the stain of emotion, and pure in its premise. “For” , she thought, “surely if left impoverished by fate, a man such as this would benefit from my intellect to improve his own fortune”. She would take the road ahead, believing that Wisdom would surely (like herself) seek to extinguish all traces of doubt by seeking the certainties of the future.

Passion regarded the hermit, believing that a man such as he could not possibly have known the joys of the flesh for many years, and offered his own body as a vessel to impart the gift of lust for a single night. And through such sensations, he would reinvoke the fiery yearning of desire that would likely have dimmed for the old herald in the passing of years. He would venture to the left, where pleasures awaited the courageous, “For surely Wisdom would choose to be rewarded by the pleasures that lie in store for those who have overcome their inhibitions and hesitations.”

For Memory, the herald evoked great pity in his hunched and tired appearance. She would touch his mind, and draw from his temple the thought of his childhood, if only to awaken the traces of simple youth and carefree joy that only a child could possess in their innocence. Memory would then take the path winding right, and to the home from which she came (and to which Wisdom was likely headed), “For what greater pursuit is there than the return to the comforts of one’s hearth where one feels safe and reassured. Or whats more… to be welcomed as a guest to such lodgings.”

At once the haggard appearance of the herald melted away, revealing a beautiful titan in the prime of his youth, but with ancient eyes that held the light of a thousand suns. And as one, the siblings realised that they had found Wisdom.

The transformed magus regarded each deity in turn, but not one received the look of affection they had so hoped to win.

“You have come this far, but erred in your pursuit. Though your gifts hold great value, they are exhaustible and offer nothing of enduring value. You judged me on the mark of my appearance, and so from pity your reasons for genorosity were informed. And from misdirected judgement, you would seek me out on roads I would not travel.”

Reason lanced Wisdom with a cold anger in return, tactically informing of the perfect and unflawed nature of her gift, “a gift that is free from the limitations of mortal faults, and woven from the clear and refined logic that remains the untapped potential of all men.”

Wisdom acknowledged her, “Indeed, your gift was valuable. Practical and lost to most men in the face of hardship. But it was given in the pride of its seeming tautology – moulded from your own perception. The fortune of a man is not always bound by their stock of cold logic. The whispers you had endured on your journey was also the growing seed of your impatience, greedingly asserting its claim in your mind to the knowledge of another merely for its possession, but not for its joy in having. For that, your reasons for seeking me were not pure of intent. And for what purpose would I, Wisdom, seek to travel to where doubt is erased and the mysteries of the future forgotten? For in doubt grows knowledgeable pursuit, and in such pursuit lies the very joy of the shape a future can assume. A future rife with a thousand variations to the lessons needed in shaping our soul. “

“What of I?”, exclaimed Passion curiously, with confidence draped upon his broad frame and a complacent grin teasingly playing at the corners of his mouth. “Surely I offered you all that I was, not refraining any part of myself. Truly, it is only in such enigmatic and open gestures that the purity of intent can be read. I have hidden nothing, and given you everything”

“You allure is undeniable, and your surrender to the pull of your emotions allows you a vibrant life. You have truly offered everything, and refrained from withholding anything.” “But,” Wisdom continued, “it is your lust that will be your undoing. For, as you have seen, the beasts on the road were none but those you have uncaged within yourself. Left unattended, your untrained wants and whiles will have the better of you to the point of exhaustion. And leave behind a vessel empty of the fire that burned so fervently once before. Your gift was given out of vanity, and not of any true desire to rekindle the fire in another. And who are you to judge the flame that burns in comparison to your own? For even the most withered soul has once known the intimacies of their own bodies, and memory of such joys still linger in their flesh. They seek not the charity of your lust, but the shape of your heart. But that is not what you could offer. What is more, your chosen path is that of the hedonist, and not of the martyr who deserves the rewards of their sacrifice. For no soul enjoys the nurture of only success, but pain is the maiden to pleasure that is needed to cultivate growth. “

Memory felt beckoned forward, to offer reply, “It is certain then, that what I offer you is of satisfaction. For it is unpresumtious, and seeks not to outline the shape of your future, but guide you to the familiar comforts of what is known until you are ready to reassume your destined path. ”

Wisdom ruefully drew his gaze toward her in address, “For even though truth is held in what you say, you estimate too much of what is to be savoured from the past. Indeed there lies a comfort in reminiscence, but so does stagnation. What you offer will only rekindle the simple joys for the briefest spell, only to fall once again into something that will remain desired. For it is already past. What you the offer in truth is joy that would not outlast the sorrows that is to follow once the bearer of such thoughts return to the present. And it was this very sorrow that sickened your soul, and left you without remedy on your journey to find me. For fear of such feelings, you would seek to take the road back to a place that left you ignorant of the lessons that lay beyond, and that would avoid the mists of uncertainty from clouding your vision – a vision that has been narrowed by the decadent comforts of what is familiar.”

At this, the protest of all three assualted Wisdom in his humble demeanour. And in their anger, all wished to speak, but no one to listen. “Why then, did we need venture through the unknown fogs that only obscured our judgement! Why not be met on the grounds that were known to us, and thus would have given us clarity and controlled judgement?!”, lamented Memory.

“And what would you have of us, as gifts for your hand?! What are your desires to be met, that would buy passage to your approval, if not the gifts that are informed by our very essence?”, shouted Passion.

“And what road then would you have us take, if none would lead to you? Why present the choice, if the outcome has no bearing?!”, Reason protested.

Wisdom answered each in turn. To Memory he said, “Knowledge does not seek the learner, for it is the learner that seeks it out instead. How could I thus travel to meet you at the place from which you came, when the place where you are now yet leaves you unready for my reception. For I can only be found through uncertainty and never in the place where I am idly awaited.” To Passion he said, “I cannot be gifted by the turmoil of emotions that rages through your veins. It is raw and chaotic, and lacks sensible discernment. What you singularly give is not of enduring value. Instead, I sought a gift reconciled from the aptitudes of each – presented as parts to a whole, but not infallible as divided entities. For what you each offer compensates for the lack of the other, and had you assumed such a humble contribution, you would have gifted me with an understanding of the mindful regard you bear of your strengths, but also a humble acknowledgement you afford your weaknesses. “

Lastly, Reason he addressed, “You ask me which road there was to take, when the choices seemed limited? But choices presented does not enforce decisions to be made in their favour. Your very logic blinds you to the fact that I was already awaiting you, and thus needed not be found. I needed you to look past your ambitions to see that which was always open for you to discover.”

So it came to be, that Reason, Passion and Memory saw in the eyes of Wisdom not the perpetuity of infathomable knowledge, but their quixotic and selfish ventures reflected back. They saw not only their inherent power, but in that reflection, their own shortcomings. In they eyes of Wisdom, each saw reflected a truth that lay deep within…

And upon that reflection, a percipience opened itself to each of the travellers. Reason regarded Passion, and now sought to learn of the exaltation that new knowledge can awaken. Passion looked to Memory, to sought a guide to his impulse and informed judgement through lessons in the treasury of the past. And Memory now turned to the logic held by Reason, for the clear mind could escape the reservations held against the unknown. Especially when slipping too far in the comforts of what was already well kept in mind. For so was the nature of the future – uncertain: reason could not predict it; passion alone could not navigate it; and memory could not escape it. And it was this of which Wisdom bred enlightenment, the truth of character that we willfully force our attentions to evade…

And before unseen, but no longer hidden, Truth steeped forth to greet the company: bare, unabashed, unashamed and iridescent; blindfolded to grandiosity, vanity and past faults. And it was Truth that Wisdom saw fit to leave in the company of the three, having seen realization dawn on his suitors. And it would come to be, that Reason, Memory and Passion instead courted Truth, and was relieved of their entitled claim to the eternal companionship of Wisdom. For Truth would remind them ever of their ways, should they find such ways be lost. Furthermore, should the counsel of Truth not find ground to be voiced… then Truth would return to Wisdom, and yearn to be courted again. At the side of Wisdom, Truth would always await those who would seek Wisdom’s prudent counsel.

For Wisdom did not seek the idle, but was instead sought out itself. Wisdom could not be gifted, but imparted gifts to the seeker. Nor could Wisdom be found on any single road, but instead at its head before a road is chosen. And Wisdom could never be courted, for it was already married to Truth. But it was also part of Truth, as Truth was part of Wisdom. To find Wisdom, was to find Truth. For the two were in perfect union, divided only for the understanding of those who needed guidance. For in wisdom lay truth, and in truth there lay wisdom

- A Short Story by the Wallflower - 

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