In Search of Sapience: The Wisdom in Wanderlust
What is sapience and why should we search for it?
When we think of a person, whether they are from the past or the present, deceased or living, an acquaintance, a friend, or a family member – what qualities about them determine what defines who they are? When we think of ourselves or others think of us, what defines who we are? From where does our sense of meaning and morality derive? The list of potential variables abound, such as our education, our careers, our relationships with colleagues and coworkers, mentors and teachers, friends, family, and romantic partners, our culture, our nationality, our religious views, our traditions, and even our genetic predispositions. Does the answer to who we are lie in some arbitrary or intricate combination of these factors, or is there something even more complex at play between them? How much is directed by us and how much determined for us? How can understanding the components of how our world and the people within it, including ourselves, came to be and interact now, enable us to navigate our daily lives with purpose toward a better future?
Throughout life so far, I have discovered that an essential part of understanding who we are, who others are, and the world we live in can be found in recognizing the vital importance of choice. I believe it is our choices that transform our world and make us who we are, from the smallest seemingly insignificant decisions to the largest most life altering ones, such as choosing to move to another city, state, or country, changing jobs, pursuing further education, or making a profound change in a personal relationship. The combined consequences that our innumerable choices render direct us on where we take our lives. The actions and words resulting from those choices display who we are to others. In large part, our words and actions govern people’s perceptions of us and even our own perception of ourselves.
If it is our choices and their resultant actions and words that make us who we are, then what determines how we make our choices? I believe our choices are based on three very significant things: our experiences, our knowledge, and the influence of others. In other words, what we have experienced throughout life already, the cumulative knowledge we have collected, and the influence of the people (and occasionally animals) we interact with, combine to guide each of our decisions. It is the unique and dynamic amalgamation of those three interconnected elements of ourselves that regulates how we think, how we choose, and thus, how we live. Based on those conclusions – that our choices and their consequences determine who we are, and that it is our experiences, our knowledge, and the influence of others that drive our choices – then for me, it is what I experience, what I learn, and whom I keep close that I value most in life.
Most of us are familiar with the scientific name for humans, Homo sapiens. The name literally means “wise person” with the word sapiens being Latin for wise and the origin for the English word, sapience. Sapience is defined as learning, wisdom, and sagacity. To have sapience is to possess the knowledge that allows for just judgment, discernment, or insight as to action. Sapience or wisdom is not a finite or measurable amount of facts or data, but rather a collective knowledge of numerous aspects of the world that allows for a deeper understanding of anything and anyone around us. It also means realizing that while we can never hope to obtain an all-encompassing knowledge of everything and everyone, we should always be actively moving ourselves away from ignorance and toward understanding. Ultimately, in making a conscious commitment to seek sapience in our daily lives, we attain an ever increasing ability to form more meaningful connections between our experiences, our knowledge, and the influence of others in our life to make better choices for both our personal and collective future.
Wanderlust is defined as a strong, innate desire, longing, or impulse to travel. Originating in the late nineteenth century, the word has increasingly become a term used by travel enthusiasts to describe their passion. In Search of Sapience is not just a travel blog, but focused on relating and encouraging both a mental and physical wanderlust. The travels described here not only encompass actual travel to destinations, but travel within our thoughts and minds as we ponder topics that span the fields of science and history. The wisdom found in wanderlust is that exploring and experiencing the world we inhabit allows us to learn more about the circumstances that surround the human events that affect us and the motivations for the actions and words that create or sway them. Further, we can also come to better comprehend the natural processes that guide scientific knowledge. By better understanding each other and how our world functions, we can avoid and resolve conflict, make changes together to enhance our shared future, and more thoroughly appreciate the astoundingly abundant and varied life on our planet.
Physically traveling to a distant country, or even just a neighboring city, state, or province, often allows us to immerse ourselves in a culture and society that is not our own. Through interacting with people, we learn about those cultures and societies, including their traditions, beliefs, religions, histories, food, and art. A hike through a bizarre natural environment offers us gorgeous landscapes to take in, while the unfamiliar plants and animals that inhabit them can teach us about the ecosystems in which they either thrive or struggle to survive due to the impact of humanity. Investigating the many realms of science allows us to understand how the chemical and physical interactions of our world operate. By revealing the complex workings of physics, chemistry, and biology, we improve our ecological awareness, our quality of healthcare, and our mindfulness of our spatial place within the universe. Organizing and integrating our history into that scientific consciousness permits us to understand the choices that created the present that we reside within. A knowledge of those choices determines our ability to guide ourselves forward. Therefore, an understanding of the past allows us to view the present with greater clarity and enables and empowers us to envision and create the brightest possible future.
It is through wanderlust that we increase and diversify our experiences, knowledge, and interactions with others and it is from the intermingling of our experiences, knowledge, and interactions that we form the basis for all our decisions. Our cumulative choices in turn are what continually mold us into who we are and transform the world into what it will become. In seeking sapience and nurturing it in ourselves and others, we facilitate the most effective means for positive change.