Do You Desire Wisdom as Much as You Want Air?

“When you want wisdom as badly as you desired air, then you shall have it.”

Proverbs 19:8 says “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; He who keeps understanding will find good.”

Many years ago I here this story by Socrates, and there are different versions of this story, however they all have the same underlying key concept around desiring and getting wisdom.

The story is told that one day, a young man approached Socrates and asked for wisdom. Socrates said, “Come, follow me.“

The youth followed Socrates as he walked to the edge of the sea. The young man followed Socrates into the water until he was about chest deep. 

Suddenly, and without warning, Socrates grabbed the youth by his cloak and forced him under the water. The young man played along with this obvious object lesson. But then he started running out of air. He struggled, but Socrates held him firmly. He fought for air, but to no avail. 

Finally, the youth men stopped struggling and went limp. Socrates dragged him to the beach. After making sure that the young man was still alive, Socrates left him on the sand and walked away.

Hours later, the angry young man tracked down Socrates and demanded an explanation. “I asked for wisdom, and you tried to drown me!”

Socrates calmly replied, “When you want wisdom as much as you desired air, then you shall have it.”