Picking My Brain

“Say! You’re a great teacher! Thanks for helping me understand all that!”

I had never seen the slender young man before, but we had spent the last hour in my music store discussing a myriad of subjects. Banjos, violins, vintage guitars–you name it, if there was one of them in the store, we talked about it.

The twenty-something fellow was like a sponge, soaking up every bit of information I laid out for him. After we had talked about the construction of the century-old violin he brought in for an appraisal, we also discussed its accessories and value. By the time I had exhausted my knowledge of the violin family, he was profuse in his praise.

“How can you know so much about this?”

A little embarrassed, I gently brushed aside the compliment, and he wandered through the store for awhile, stopping to admire a vintage acoustic guitar on display. Before we finished our conversation about that subject, we had widened the field of the discussion to include several other old instruments hanging in the place. Again, he was amazed.

brainpicking“Really! I’ve never had anyone who could tell me so much about musical instruments.”

He continued to pump me about the various instruments, asking questions that made me reach back into my memory of the basics and methodology of each one. I must have passed his test, because at the end of the hour, he concluded his comments with the above statement about teaching.

I’m laughing.

I tried teaching one time. 

Tried. Failed


I didn’t have the patience. Seriously, when I told a student something a single time at a lesson, I expected them to retain that information as long as they were studying the subject. Why else would I have told them?

I taught you this last week! Why do I need to tell you again?

Now you’re laughing. I’m not a teacher. The nice young man is wrong.

May I tell you what I do know?

What I do know is that not one idea in my brain belongs to me. Not one.

What I do know is that there is no knowledge which I retain about any subject that I acquired without the assistance of someone else. None.

Everything I have has been given me. Everything. Some may wish to argue the point, but I contend that none of us has acquired anything of ourselves. Oh, I don’t mean that we haven’t worked to attain it, but we cannot even claim the credit for the strength to do that work, much less the intellect to understand the subject in which we claim expertise.

Captain of my own ship? What a fraud! 

Many who have affirmed that status find, to their chagrin, that it is a complete falsehood. Physical strength may be gone in a moment’s time. So too, the intellect is as likely to be snatched away as it is to remain at our beck and call throughout our lives.

I must share my meager store of information because it was never mine to hoard. It was never mine to dole out. It has never been mine to sell to the highest bidder.

I may not be able to teach skillfully, but I can talk endlessly. That will come as no surprise to those who know me well, nor to quite a few folks who know me hardly at all, but nonetheless have endured my oral ramblings at length.

The Lovely Lady and I sneaked out to eat at a fast food restaurant tonight. The girl at the cash register called out the total for our meals and then added a phrase I’ve never heard before. I don’t even think it’s a real thing.

“With your Wise Person Discount, your total will be eleven dollars and seventy-nine cents.”

Huh?  Wise Person Discount?  Are you kidding me?  Just because I’m getting old?

I took the discount. I’m grateful for the compliment. 

Still, I’m not sure she really understands the concept of wisdom. Wrinkles and gray hair aren’t equivalent to wisdom. Some of the most foolish folks I know are much older than I. That said, it is to be hoped that the passage of years has brought with it a tiny bit, perhaps just an iota, of wisdom. But that too will be a gift, unearned, unmerited.

I still believe that every good thing comes from the Giver of all good gifts.

Freely we have received; freely we must give.

It’s not much, but I’m going to keep dispensing the knowledge contained in my head. Perhaps a bit of wisdom will be thrown in here and there.

Hey. It’s possible.

Come see me and pick my brain. We’ll see.





“True wisdom exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
(Socrates ~ Classical Greek philosopher ~ ca. 469 BC-399 BC)


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
(James 1:5 ~ NIV)



© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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