What I’ve figured out so far.

January 7, 2011 § 16 Comments

Wisdom accrues in small increments, the natural result of being alive with your eyes open.  Here, in no particular order are a few things that seem, at least to me, to be true.

Like a Babushka doll, my younger selves are nestled inside the one the world sees.  To me the least familiar is the one on the outside.

Whose face is that in the mirror?  It must be my mother’s.

Orphans are popular in children’s fiction.  My own orphan character is named Anna Casey.  I admit, writing about an orphan is a cheap trick.  The scariest of all possible tragedies, the mere idea of being orphaned engages a young reader.  But unless we die young, we all become orphans.  Even at fifty-five, the experience was as scary and tragic as I’d feared. Orphanhood can strike at any age.

“Have a nice day,” a phrase I wrote off as superficial and meaningless when I was younger, now seems to be a small act of kindness, a nod to our shared humanity,  a way of saying, I hope it goes well for you, we’re all in this together.

Ailments replace children as topics of conversation.  They can become nearly as dear to us if we are not careful, turning conversation into a game of one-upmanship; my aches and pains versus yours.  The winner and loser are hard to tell apart.

Ice water is still the most refreshing drink, mashed potatoes the most comforting food.

Don sweatpants, sweatshirt and white sneakers and–it’s over.  The difference between comfort and flat-out giving up is just that small.

I am not my body.  My body is a dear friend and travelling companion, but one day I will shed it as if stepping out of a pair of jeans, and I will go on.

Summer begins in December with the arrival of the first seed catalog.  This I learned from my father.  A Burpee catalog draped over the arm of the Morris chair can provide sunlight on the shortest winter day.

To gauge how long someone has known me I only have to hear what name they call me:  Amy or Adrian.  For my dad the names that separated old friends from new were Sonny or Carl.  For my mother, Maria or Gloria.  For my brother, Chris or Carl.  For my sister, Corny or Claudia.

I can’t “get over” the death of a loved one and go on, and so I carry them all with me.  I tell their stories, remember their wisdom and their pratfalls, the way they whistled, the way they liked their eggs.  I recall and miss them in total, and often.

I need friends of all ages to feel like a genuine participant.  Some of my friends are just learning to read, others remember saving string and tin foil and hearing the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor broadcast over a Philco radio.

Work occupies most of my waking hours, but having been lucky in my choice of jobs, work has always been one of life’s deepest pleasures.

Sometimes I sing lead.  Sometimes harmony.  One is about taking a chance, the other about helping someone else take a chance.

Memory is my favorite possession, and my heaviest burden.  That’s the price of love I guess.

I’ve lost the keen desire to win, so another person’s success no longer diminishes mine.  Realizing that life is not a zero-sum game I look forward to hearing your good news.

I do my best to love generously.  What am I saving it for?

The only thing I have for sure is this one breath–and that is enough to make me grateful.

The comments all of you contribute are what make this blog worth writing.  Bet I missed some of life’s important lessons, although I probably all but tripped over them.  What have you figured out so far?


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§ 16 Responses to What I’ve figured out so far.

  • craig reeder says:

    here’s what i’ve learned:
    watch this blog for words of wisdom and inspiration!


  • Judy Ransom says:

    What have I figured out so far? Learning from other people’s successes and mistakes is far less painful than trying to figure it all out on my own. Everyone needs mentors. And I’m thankful to have you as one, Adrian!


  • I’ve discovered that:
    – when the choice is ‘housework’ or ‘anything else’, I always choose ‘anything else’.

    – I am always reluctant to de-decorate the Christmas tree, but as long as Tom hasn’t removed his Disney model trains from around the base I don’t have t and the season can continue another day.

    – staying chained to the computer on a sunny day is tatamount to treason against the state – of Florida, that it.

    – reduced sugar chocolate cake falls short of perfect, but it’s better than no chocolate at all!

    – sometimes I just don’t have it in me to be profound, so humorous has to do – for now.

    Thanks, Adrian, for all of the thoughts. I especially liked the solo/harmony lesson. That’s lovely!


  • Housework versus anything else? Even if the anything else is swallowing a live worm I’m down with it!


  • Leigh M. says:

    I think four things make for a happy life. Honor these, and everything else falls into place.

    1: Live your life with integrity.
    2: Live your life feeling kindly and compassionate toward others.
    3: Set a worthwhile goal and work on it every day.
    4: Don’t rush. Enjoy every stage of your life thoroughly so when it’s over, you can move on with no regrets.


  • tgumster says:

    Often, I missed the ease of life, choosing the flurry of passion over balance and perspective. A much beloved friend once offered, “people really are doing the best they can, and there are always options.” Like the friend, this has never failed me.


    • The flurry of passion is so compelling. Balance and perspective seem like the booby prize by comparison.

      As you can guess from that comment, I’m still waiting for my real adult wisdom (which includes balance and perspective) to come in.


  • mimi says:

    friends are so special…friends like Adrian.


  • I’ve figured out that I like nice people and you are obviously one. Nice blog, Amy.
    It’s funny anybody calls me “Richie” and they get an automatic acceptence card in the Richard Edward Noble fan club. It makes me laugh. I was interviewing a old World War II vet for a newspaper article and in his explanations he kept calling me Richie. I was over sixty years old at the time. He was in his eighties. After the first “Richie” he could say nothing that didn’t get a positive response from me. I could not belive I was so easy.


  • Sue Cronkite says:

    You are certainly right about those who have gone on into the spirit world., I think about them often, rember little things, like how my mother could raise one eyebrow in a quizical look. Sometimes it meant “Is that so?” Sometimes it meant “You’re being ridiculous.” Sometimes it meant “That’s far enough, young lady.”
    I lost an aunt in Sept., a dear friend in Oct., another aunt (the one my age) in Nov., her husband two weeks later, and a cousin who was the one most like her mother, my aunt Ethel, the next week. I miss them so. But I can talk with them in my mind.
    Life is really a wonderful experience. I agree with you on the admonition to take part in it every day, to show some love, and to do some good, every day while there are days left to do those things.


  • Leigh M. says:

    I’m still looking for that balance, Adrian. Apparently most of us are. Thanks for the sweet thought.


  • […] my “What I’ve learned so far, part one” post I wrote this: Whose face is that in the mirror? It must be my mother’s. But […]


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