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.
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.
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?