Being a “mentor” or “life coach” appears to be a popular career choice. I don’t know if it’s a generational trend, or a sign of some underlying needs. I tend to think it’s the latter, but I do know that our fiction is full of these mentors, or Sages, that seek to pass on their guidance. The role of the Sage is not a new one, it’s part of the ancient tradition of one generation passing on to the next their wisdom.
Perhaps a lack of that transfer of wisdom is the cause of the growing trends. Fiction, though, has been reminding us all along of this lost responsibility of each generation. John Eldredge, on writing on the stages of a man’s life in The Way of the Wild Heart, explores the Sages of fiction:
Knowing how hard it is to find a Sage, you might for the time being draw strength and inspiration from those we find in books and film.
Yoda is the classic Sage: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering.”
…the wonderful old priest in The Count of Monte Cristo: “Here now is your final lesson: do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God said, ‘Vengeance is mine.'” “I don’t believe in God,” replies Dantes. “It doesn’t matter, He believes in you.”
…there is Gandalf…To him everyone looks…he embodies that mythic longing deep in our hearts for a true Sage to walk the road with us.
…the great mythic archetype would be Merlin, without whom Arthur could have never been King.
Being a real-life Sage in our world is difficult. To become one, you must seek a wide breadth of knowledge and experience. You must know the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Cutting through the noise and recognizing when others switch from teaching to influencing, are lost arts. Then you face those who don’t respect the past and fail to grasp momentous experience and thought of previous generations. Eldredge gives some guidance:
[A Sage] has no agenda, and nothing now to lose. What he offers, he offers with kindness, and discretion, knowing by instinct those who have ears to hear, and those who don’t. Thus his words are offered in the right measure, at the right time, to the right person. He will not trouble you with things you do not need to know, nor burden you with things that are not yet yours to bear, nor embarrass you with exposure for shortcomings you are not ready to overcome, even though he sees all of that.
Will being that Sage be part of your Story? It’s a life-long journey. Start now and give wisdom to our future.