by Tom Swift

A veterinarian named Dave Jolly sent me an e-mail that cut to the chase:

“The heart cannot be taught in a classroom intellectually, to students mechanically taking notes. … Good, wise hearts are obtained through lifetimes of diligent effort to dig deeply within and heal lifetimes of scars … You can’t teach it or e-mail it or tweet it. It has to be discovered within the depths of one’s own heart when a person is finally ready to go looking for it, and not before.

“The job of the wise person is to swallow the frustration and just go on setting an example of caring and digging and diligence in their own lives. What a wise person teaches is the smallest part of what they give. The totality of their life, of the way they go about it in the smallest details, is what gets transmitted.

“Never forget that. The message is the person, perfected over lifetimes of effort that was set in motion by yet another wise person now hidden from the recipient by the dim mists of time. Life is much bigger than we think, cause and effect intertwined in a vast moral structure that keeps pushing us to do better, become better, even when we dwell in the most painful confused darkness.”

-David Brooks, The Road to Character (2015)