January 30 , 2023 /


Thousands of years of wisdom literature have used the techniques of oral storytelling that was then disseminated in written form.  The collections include the wisdom literature from Sumeria and Babylonia, among the most ancient in the world, with the Sumerian documents dating back to the third millennium BC and and the Babylonian dating to the second millennium BC.  Many of the surviving texts uncovered at Nippur are as ancient as the 18th century BC. Most of these texts are wisdom in the form of dialogues or hymns.



You may be familiar with the Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, or Biblical texts and other religious scriptures from both Hinduism (Upanishads) and Buddhism (The Tripiṭaka is composed of three main categories of texts that collectively constitute the Buddhist canon: the Sutra Piṭaka, the Vinaya Piṭaka, and the Abhidhamma Piṭaka.  There are also numerous sources of wisdom literature in the form of stories from indigenous people in Africa, Latin America and North America.  People on every continent and in every country have traditions of passing along wisdom through oral traditions, in other words, stories, stories about life, values and virtues, beliefs and practices.



It is in this spirit and tradition that my friend, Grant Lichtman, set out on a two-year journey to interview people in the United States, people whom he believes have wisdom to share with the rest of us.  Here is what he said as he began the first leg of his journey back in August, 2022:

“There are deep wells of cultural wisdom across our country, traditions and lessons that have been swept away by our tech-driven, plugged-in race to consumption, popularity, and perceptions of success.

These sources of wisdom exist amongst our Indigenous people, much of it focused on desperately needed social and emotional wellness, and yet largely ignored in our classrooms and homes. I believe that other similarly “overlooked” cultures, shaped by shared geography, ethnicity, jobs, and life struggles, hold jewels of equal value.”


Grant will also be meeting and talking with Black Americans in the Delta and in northern cities; Latinx Americans from the great Southwest; ranchers in the Texas panhandle and farmers across the plains; Acadians in Maine and Louisiana; coal miners in Appalachia and many more. You might even see him in your neighborhood, sitting on a porch or in a local café or fueling up.


I told Grant that he has embarked on a bold and wonderful learning journey and that I admire what he is doing that will enrich our understanding and appreciation of a wider and deeper slice of our culture.  If this interests you, as it does me, and you want to catch up with Grant or see where he’s been and read some of the stories you can find his blog at https://www.grantlichtman.com/           or follow along on Facebook:



Grant has just started Leg 2 on Wisdom Road and I am honored that he stopped by here and that we had a chance to catch up and send him off today to continue this amazing journey.  I also wanted to welcome him to  life on the road in an RV when things don’t always go as planned.  That’s a minor part of his story, nonetheless one of those details not to be overlooked about adjusting and adapting as needed.


One of my sages, among several, was my Dad who had a sign in his workshop that I have quoted previously and it seems appropriate here. “We get too soon old and too late wise.”




Comments (2)

  1. It should also be noted that age and wisdom are not Necessarily synonymous. For some age only brings bitternness and regret, and I have learned some very wise things from the very young. I also remember a Haudenosaunee man who was considered an Elder, at 24.🙂

    1. Agreed. There is no correlation between age and wisdom as far as I know. I have learned as much or more from younger people than from older ones who stopped learning. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed teaching in schools and colleges as those kids had insights that their elders missed completely.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *