101008 COMM Henderson By the silver sea.jpg

With a playful smile, a young woman wades in the glistening sea — she is content with her company and her thoughts. “By the Silver Sea,” by Steve Henderson.

It’s amazing — and sad — how little we trust our own judgment.

Of course, it’s not unusual. We’ve been trained since childhood to listen to the teacher, follow the pastor, accede to the dictates of the doctor, nod at the words of the politician, buy products hawked by the celebrity and accept the pronouncements of the scientist.

These are the experts, we are told, and their words trump our thoughts. And while there is much to be said about students learning from teachers — not all people who call themselves teachers are necessarily so, not all “experts” agree and not all leaders deserve to be in their position.

Indeed, one of the hallmarks of a person of true wisdom is that they readily admit they don’t know everything. They could be wrong. They may know a lot about a subject, but the more they know, the more they recognize what they don’t know. In all honesty, they cannot propound statements in stone.

A wise person — and to become one of these is a reachable goal for all of us — seeks out other wise people, and we learn from them. The wiser we grow, the more easily we see the counterfeits — the “confident” speaker, the arrogant promoter, the person who pronounces his opinion and expects us to accept it without question.

The artwork, “By the Silver Sea,” shows a young woman wading barefoot in the surf. A slight smile plays upon her face because she is alone with her thoughts, and she is comfortable with their presence. Whether she is an “expert” — a speaker, a scholar, a scientist, a preacher, a teacher, a person with multitudinous Instagram followers — we do not know, because what matters is that she is an expert on herself: She knows what she likes, she knows her dreams, she knows it will take much to achieve them, she knows her limitations, and she is willing to undergo the process of learning, questioning, trying, failing, falling, picking herself up and continuing to move forward.

She uses her judgment to live the one and only life she has been given on this earth. Not somebody else’s. Hers.

Carolyn Henderson is a freelance writer who believes in the beauty and value of everyday people — because there are so many of us. She welcomes correspondence at carolyn@stevehendersonfineart.com.