What would you exchange for wisdom?
Odin gave up an eye, leaving him with just one left to carry out his godly duties.
Though his precise nature and role has been disputed, distorted through time, Odin was generally known in Norse mythology as the god of war. He is recognised for protecting heroes and joining fallen warriors in his grand palace, Valhalla. He was also associated with poetry.
Bloody battles, wisdom and poetry you say?
What a strange mix. Or... maybe not.
Perhaps this contrast is precisely what is missing from our modern day choice of "gods" and "kings" to look up to and embody. Pursuit of a perfect ideal denies so much of the human experience. Myth takes us back to the depths.
We are not all faced with war, though in some parts of the world that is very much the grim reality.
But even when not faced with such a battle directly, we all have an opportunity to face "death" with courage, to fight for what we believe to be the right and conduct ourselves in a way that reflects our pursuit of wisdom.
"Death", not necessarily in terms of the ultimate end, but letting go of aspects of ourselves and those which make up our lives. Parts no longer in support of attaining wisdom.
To have wisdom is to possess the ability to make high quality choices. This includes knowing when to take risks.
To embrace contrast is to transform our struggles into resilience by attributing appropriate meaning to them.
Living fiercely, intentionally.
Some years ago I found myself devoid of resilience. Stuck in struggle. Fighting against what I didn't want rather than for what I did. My life was not poetry. More like a scramble of words that didn't make much sense to me. So perhaps the "eye" I gave was the security of a well-paying job. A known outcome: a default future.
I cast myself into the unknown of a life on the other side of the planet, with no job and only a rough plan.
And the wisdom I received was cultivated through the richness of forging my own way and making sense of my past all at the same time.
As we look to Odin, we can learn so much.
But let us focus on the sacrifice he made to be able to dip into the well of other-worldly wisdom.
What are you willing to give up for wisdom?
Or perhaps first, is wisdom important enough to you to give something up? Maybe not, and that's okay too.