World Wisdom Map — A global breathing repository of life lessons

Wisdom pieces scattered all around the globe

Para a versão em português, acesse aqui.

“Hey, Claudinha! I just recommended you to share your life lesson with the World Wisdom Map led by Project FUEL!”. I knew very little about what that recommendation meant, but I readily accepted it. Sharing wisdom pieces across the globe was the kind of project that my global-citizen self would simply jump in. It was an invitation I simply could not let go. “Hey, Leo! That sounds like a great fit. I’m in!”. I joined my friend Leonardo Capel and went on to share my personal story as one of the three lessons from Brazil. Leo, by the way, has just launched a book with countless wisdom pieces — it’s called “O Dilema dos Millennials” (“The Millennial's’ Dilemma”, available in Portuguese for now). Long story short: Leo and I are connected to Deepak Ramola, an amazing storyteller who founded Project FUEL. We met Deepak at a youth-oriented event (World Merit 360) to provide solutions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back in 2016 in New York City. Deepak invited Leo to write a story for World Wisdom Map, and then Leo invited me to join forces. Oh, and just like Leo, Deepak has just launched a book full of wisdom pieces — “50 Toughest Questions of Life”. And yes, this motivates me to write and publish my own book some time soon, millennial style.

The pathways that lead to wisdom show us that we are much more alike than we think. Check out the World Wisdom Map and all the amazing artwork from 10 South-East Asian artists along with incredibly talented school students.

After this ‘connecting-the-dots’ intro, it is time to give you some facts about the World Wisdom Map. It covers over 370 inspiring stories from 195 countries. You can filter these pieces of wisdom by geography, emotions, outcome, discovery, values, motivations, and relationships (yep, just discover all of them here). For the data science lovers (like myself), you can explore the ‘data narratives’ — what are the patterns, insights, and philosophies on how people learn by themselves and as a collective? No matter where we are in the world, our life lessons pull together experiences that may be common to many. For instance, my life lesson came with these tags: happiness, grateful, self, realization, hope, kindness, gratitude, appreciation, love, growth, vision, respect, positive, friends, society. Let us take the word ‘realization’ as an example. ‘Realization’ resonates to a 29-year-old woman from Kyrgyzstan, a 34-year-old man from Iraq, a 28-year-old woman from São Tomé and Príncipe and many others. Across geographies, emotions, outcomes, discoveries, values, motivations, and relationships, “we are more alike than we are unalike” (Dr. Maya Angelou). Let me share my life lesson:

Be at peace with yourself and fall in love with life’s ‘comes and goes’, ‘attachments and detachments’. Life has its own way of turning doubts into possibilities.

(You can also read the original World Wisdom Map publication of my story here)

Here’s the story behind my life lesson in three acts.

Act 1: Whispering to the wind

View from the Campeche island, a small island of the city of Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina, South of Brazil. Photo credit: Cláudia Coleoni

As I watched over the Atlantic Ocean in the city of Florianópolis, South of Brazil, I whispered to the wind: “Life really knows how to turn doubts into possibilities, doesn’t it?”. In a sunny afternoon of December 2019, I started connecting the dots. My mind went back to March 2019, days before concluding my Master of Science journey in the UK. “What is next?” — that was the question I would often ask myself. I had no idea where I would end up going — it could be the UK itself, my home country Brazil, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Zambia, Colombia and even China. Four continents right there.

To answer that question, I had to turn my look inward first and be at peace with my own, recognising what mattered the most to me. Life comes in cycles — to start a brand new one, you need to finish the current one, no matter how delightful it has been. Slowly, I learned the beauty of detachment and the value of the ‘comes and goes’ of life. This combination allowed me to expand my own horizons. I was determined to continue catalysing local and regional efforts towards sustainability, particularly in the Latin American region (a long-dreamed goal of mine). I packed my luggage with gratitude for all the beautiful friendships, landscapes, and learnings, and went back to the initial source of inspiration — my home country, Brazil.

Act 2: Flowing like the river

The majestic Piracicaba River in my hometown Piracicaba, state of São Paulo, Brazil — a constant source of inspiration for all the seasons of my life. Photo credit: Cláudia Coleoni

I was standing in awe as I observed the majestic Piracicaba [1] River in my hometown with my beloved parents. It was as if the river of my childhood whispered to me: “No matter how many times you go out there in the world to find yourself, you are always welcome here. You do not need to prove yourself; you do not need to deserve it. You can come and go anytime. You will always belong here. This is your home”.

The river’s stillness and strength represented the warm welcome of my hometown and the eagerness for new beginnings. I fully embraced that insight and carried on being myself. I started to consistently share what I had learned with my own community, empowering the youth to voice their own dreams for our climate and environment. I was flowing like the river as I increased my self-awareness of the pathways I could follow (and the ones I would create when none was on sight).

It was early June 2019. As the future unfolded and after countless job applications, I said “yes” to a research opportunity in Bogotá, Colombia. It was the horizon expanding once again, leading me closer to my goal of bridging the gap between environmental science and policy in Latin America. UK, Brazil, and Colombia had all become home in 2019 because I learned to look within myself first and to stay true to my own journey. And the journey did not stop there. Up in the mountains for fieldwork with local communities in Bolivia, down to the sea level for work meetings in Sweden, innovating for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with like-minded young people in Shenzhen, China — I embraced change and travelling not only to know new realities, but to get to know myself in a deeper way.

Act 3: Landscapes and interculturality as the common denominators

My feet touching the waters of Floripa. Photo credit: Marli Coleoni.

Now with my feet touching the waters of the Florianópolis island — or Floripa, as we call it in Brazil — , I recalled a letter a beloved friend once wrote me after our trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, US: “We have so much in common than people typically realize. The world’s nations are drawn with imaginary lines on maps, while landscapes are continuous”. I could not agree more — my encounters with new landscapes and cultures were the common denominators of my life’s ‘comes and goes’, ‘attachments and detachments’. They connected me to possibilities beyond those imaginary lines drawn on maps. They instilled in me a strong sense of belonging, turning unknown places into homes and unknown faces into lifelong friendships. Those encounters made me who I am today: a global citizen, an artist of new beginnings, an active learner that collects moments in every step of the journey, wherever it leads me.

[1] In the Tupi-Guarani indigenous language, the name Piracicaba means “place where the fish stops”, referring to the Piracicaba River falls, which block fish migration.

What is your life lesson?

Taking the time to write my life lesson was undoubtedly a journey of self-knowledge and gratitude. My mind revisited landscapes, faces, photos, letters, sketches, conversations, and memories shared on social media to understand the pathways leading to wisdom. I must say this was one of the most rewarding moments of 2020 — sharing this wisdom piece with the world together with hundreds of people across the globe (and having the opportunity of inviting others to do the same). By sharing my story, I feel even more connected to our humanity, our collective dreams, and aspirations. It is a reminder that every step of the journey matters and that we all have come this far because we are a combination of our past, our present and our future. Geographies, emotions, outcomes, discoveries, values, motivations, and relationships have led me to the where I am right now, and they inspire me to keep exploring and living it all to the fullest in every season of my life. I invite you to take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and ask yourself: “What is my life lesson?”. As you embark in a new year ahead, you may be surprised at how many wonderful life lessons you have already collected. You may just have not realised it yet.

A global citizen who believes in the transformative power of education and traveling. An active learner, passionate about sustainability and interculturality.

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