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Generous Wisdom

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Fifty-One things you wish your grandmother had told you… or may be she did.

This article appeared in our August 2003 issue. This work began in a conversation with a friend, who was quoting back to me a story I had told him some years before. Lie had it down chapter and verse, including a moral. I remembered the story, but not that I had given it a punch line. He felt that the story had given him a life-changing insight. Over the next few days I thought about the conversation, and stories others had told me came to mind. As certain stories and phrases came back, so did the voices and contexts. The tellers became present. I realized that these stories, sayings, and ideas have meant a great deal to me, and that those who shared them are my teachers. I also realized that I am far from unique in receiving this generous wisdom. Nearly everyone I know has a story to share once the threshold of friendship is crossed. Characterizing them as stories is a little misleading. They are not remembered for information they contain, but because they point to something beyond information, something about living. They offer practices. Or, as I have come to understand them, life practi …

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