At age eighteen I thought I knew so much. That may have been true if you compared me to other eighteen year olds. I read more than the average teen. I took Advanced Placement classes. I took life pretty seriously, and yet, at the time I enjoyed myself. I had some brainy and quick-witted friends.
Ten years after that I looked back at my oh-so-wise-in-my-own-eyes teen self and shook my head. What a naïve girl! A lifetime of non-book learning seemed to occur in those ten short years. I’d put in some college time, sure, but I didn’t learn much the first time as a freshman. Who does, right? Distracted by trying to pay for the privilege of being there, I missed out on a ton of fun and opportunities. I had the dumbest work hours. Missed all the parties, missed all the camaraderie, missed learning how to get along with people.
Then I got to go back to school as a slightly older student and I soaked it all in like a sandbox and water. I had a couple of writing classes that kickstarted me in the sanity direction that words spilling out on paper became.
One professor in particular encouraged and praised my writing beyond anything I’m sure I deserved. I reread that stuff and wonder how he ever saw potential there. His last bit of advice to me hit me like an anvil dropped from an outcropping cliff by a road runner. Mind you, as a twenty-five year old mother of two I thought I had some life under my belt.
He said, and I paraphrase, “You’ve got real talent there. Give yourself ten or twenty years of life experience and then you’ll really be a great writer.”
It was like getting a hug while a wearing a burr covered shirt. Ouch!
No, I didn’t set out to live some amazing life of adventure. Having children and my particular husband served well as adventure fodder and life experience. “Sure it is,” you’re thinking as you shake your head “no.”
Let me just insert here that after that first move which pulled me out of college one year shy of a bachelor’s degree, we moved eleven times and added two more children to the mix. From the Northwest to the Southeast to the West to the Midwest and then back to the West. Include a couple or more bounces in each region. Add in two stints of wearing out various relatives for several months in between homes.
I’ve met a wide variety of people. Granted, most of them are American, but not all of them. I learned to get along with people, make friends quickly, climb out of my shell, ask questions, act independently and confidently and navigate the weirdest roads without a smartphone or GPS.
Throw in life’s natural disasters and dramas add a generous mix of teenage angst and a bit of insanity from several directions. What you have several decades later is one woman with a head filled to overflowing with experience but not necessarily wisdom trying to make sense of what she’s done with and to her life.
I look at what I thought I knew in my thirties and shake my head in embarrassment. I look at what I thought I’d figured out in my forties and hide my head and shudder. I look at what I think I know now and at least I know that I know very little.
You know who really knows what’s what? People nearly twice my age. People ten years older than me, twenty years, thirty years older. Where is their wisdom? Why aren’t they out there blogging, writing, sharing, spilling, imparting, enlightening?
Oh yeah, because anyone younger thinks they’ve got it all figured out and they don’t pay attention. Including me to an extent.
What a dingbat.
I know some thirteen year olds who swear I know nothing about the real world. Eh, maybe. But I’m pretty sure I’d beat them in almost any game of life put to the both of us.
There’s no convincing anyone. You have to come to that conclusion yourself.
By getting older. By living.
By time you figure it out, it’s too late to profit much from the wisdom of any other person. Unless you’re willing humble yourself and listen. And then follow through.
Is that what the great circle of life really is? Learning that the stove is hot by getting burned? Figuring out the water is too deep and fast by wading in and being swept away?
I suppose to some extent there’s no way to replace experience. But there’s a few thing I would rather not have had to learn.
And I’m certain there’s more on the horizon I still don’t want to learn. I wish I could just read a book on whatever it is and take a test.
I guess I’ll try to relax and breathe deeply, so when the vehicle starts to roll, or the avalanche lets loose, or the tornado hits, or life spins wildly into vertigo I won’t get too banged up.
Anyone want to volunteer for me? Anyone? Anyone at all?
Ah, well. Life isn’t a novel, or a movie.
In the meantime, I’ll write about it all, a little hear, a little there. I’ll try to make sense of it and share what I can along the way.
You’re welcome to take it or leave it.
I don’t really know all that much, after all.