I left New Haven, that citadel committed to knowledge. I left New Haven and Yale in my junior year yearning to know something more.
I ended up in a valley, a world unto itself, down a road miles from Ardara, the nearest town in Donegal, Ireland.
It was there I came to know John Gallagher. I helped him in his fields, raking rows of cut hay each day, turning it to dry in the sun. Just has his father had done. And his grandfather. And his grandfather's father.
We spent hours quietly working, quietly talking. He was one of the few native Gaelic speakers remaining and was a direct line back to an ancient culture quickly dissolving into forgotten memory.
But he remembered – and he would tell me stories. Stories that connected me back to wisdom deep in our human story.
Wisdom deep in his being – Guiding Wisdom. For here was a man without a formal education, who had never traveled more than six miles from this valley. A man who could look at the light on the hills and know what the weather would be the next day.
Wisdom and knowledge: they are not the same – John taught me that. Wisdom is held deep in our body and guides us forward.
I have not forgotten John – the wisdom he taught me continues to guide me. In many ways, I seek a life to honor him and to leave to the world the gift he gave me.