Wisdom is information passed from generation to generation about how to live a good life. There are even books of the Bible dedicated to passing on such wisdom. Some of that Biblical wisdom is fairly simple and straightforward (like Proverbs), or it may require some deep thinking to understand (like Job and Ecclesiastes). Lives Well Lived seeks to bring us the experience of a group of forty men and women aged 76-103 who have come to their knowledge of what makes a good life by having lived long enough to look back.
Filmmaker Sky Bergman was inspired by listening to her grandmother and the things she had to teach her. She went on to film a number of people as they shared the things that they had learned through the decades. Like the wisdom in scripture, some of this is simple and straightforward, and some goes a bit deeper.
These subjects come from a variety of backgrounds. Some were immigrants, some faced discrimination in their lives. It is interesting to compare the things they have learned and now pass on with the circumstances of their lives. These are people who are still very active and involved. Perhaps they’ve lost a step or two along the way, but many of them still go to the gym or dance or do the many things that make life enjoyable for them.
Among the questions Bergman asks are: “What is your definition of a live well lived?” “What is your secret for a happy life?” “What is the one thing people should not worry about?” “What do you wish younger people knew about life?” and “What do you think about your own mortality?”
As I think about wisdom in general, it seems that there is lots of it around us. We all have access to people (like these) who can articulate the lessons that come just by living. But how willing are we to listen to that wisdom? Perhaps recognizing the wisdom of elders is just one more of those acquired bits of knowledge. When we are young, we may well think that our grandparents and parents have little to teach us—after all, they came from a very different time than today’s world. However, when we hear the voices of wisdom in the film, they are not just sharing what comes from that different world. They share a perspective that is still important in an ever-changing world.