Posts Tagged With: knowledge

 
 

The Things You Learn Whether You Know You’re Learning Them or Not

It’s Gratituesday! I’ve thought this one over for a while. I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me some cool stuff.

For instance, Mom taught me to sew as a little bitty thing. I remember sewing little drawstring bags and carrying my treasures in them. Not sure what had more value, the bag or the things in the bag. I’ve since sewn a few thousand things. I’ve made  quilts, baby blankets, skirts, dresses, shirts from scraps, pillowcases and a zillion other projects. I’ve hemmed countless pants and dresses, and altered clothing beyond imagining. I even made a living for a while using my sewing skills. How about that?

By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mom also taught me the basics of playing the piano. Then Dad and Mom both put up with listening to me crank out bad versions of pop songs and classical music. And Dad, he paid for lessons from Mrs. Kump, since they  thought I’d learn better from a different teacher for a while. I’ve played for a zillion different things and have even segued into playing the organ occasionally, which rocks, in case you’ve ever wondered. Of course, this lead naturally to a love of all these musical.

Mom sang in a music group and I learned to sing alto by listening to her practice as well as by sitting next to her while we sang hymns in church.

Dad instilled a love of all things gardening and growing. I still recall his engineering quality maps of our yard with every single plant mapped out in amazing detail. I loved getting my hands in the dirt, watching the veggies grown, picking fresh raspberries, mowing the lawn. I still prefer doing yard work to house work, even in Arizona.

They also taught me, indirectly, the satisfaction that comes from serving others. I learned, without words, that you stay and help clean up after an event. By example they let me see and feel the joy of helping others whether by bringing in a meal, helping shovel a neighbor’s driveway or listening to someone’s worries with genuine concern. Some of my happiest memories link to volunteer work, freely giving of my time and being available to share my talents just like I saw them do so often in my childhood.

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Both Dad and Mom gave me experiences that brought me to love the outdoors. As a family we went on hikes, motorbike rides, sledding, camping, horseback rides, trips to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon and countless other state and national parks. We got out on snowmobiles and hung out in a canoe fishing. We build snowmen like no one else could. We had an epic treehouse that Dad designed and built complete with a sandbox, both of which fueled out imaginations. We spent tons of time in the mountains, which feel like a second home to me.

Mom taught me the basics of canning and preserving food. We used to make the yummiest apricot fruit leather this side of anywhere! I still get kind of puckery in my cheeks remembering that sweet/sour taste. Her pickled beets are the bomb. And no one, and I mean nobody anywhere, makes raspberry freezer jam like my mom does. I’ve tried and mine’s only a close second.

I learned to laugh from both Mom and Dad. Raising all of us kids wasn’t easy, to put it mildly, so to hear them laugh out loud was a treat. Their laughter dispelled some of the tension that inevitably snuck into family life and always reminded me that recreation and relaxation and daily laughter help balance out the tough times.

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons (Not the one I actually drove.)

I know how to drive a stick shift! How many people do you know can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission nowadays? I learned to drive on hills in a dual wheel converted flatbed truck as well as in a VW van. Because of that, driving the largest rental moving van across the country wasn’t all that intimidating a few years later.

I love to read and learn new things. I got that from both of them. That right there is probably key to all the rest of the stuff they taught me. And even now, they’re still learning new tricks, as Dad likes to call it. I hope I’m still soaking in the knowledge when i reach my grownup years like them.

These few things I learned from Dad and Mom have bounced around my head lately. I’m sure grateful to have learned so much. I think I turned out okay, so far at least. They must have done a good job.

P.S.

I’d still like to learn how to whistle like Dad does. Maybe this summer he can teach me.

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Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What I Know, A Very Short Treatise

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.

photo 2-1

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.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

My own personal bluebird of happiness. He hangs in the laundry room and occasionally chirps out bits of advice.

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.

How?

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?

Katniss?

Ah, well. Life isn’t a novel, or a movie.

Age

Age (Photo credit: garryknight)

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.

Categories: Education, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Little House in the Big World: It’s Not Laura’s Prairie Anymore

We moved when I was in second grade, over Christmas break.  This meant starting at a new elementary school in the middle of the year.  My world suddenly got bigger.  Instead of walking to school, I rode the bus. Instead of a traditional classroom I was in a shared classroom with multiple second grade classes sharing space barely divided by moveable walls, and small reading nooks.  The classes were on a staggered schedule, with different start and end times for various groups in the same grade.

I was one overwhelmed kid in that arena. I nearly missed the bus home the first day at that new school. Too much noise, too much input, too many kids, too much to keep track of.

Add in the fact that we hadn’t yet discovered that I needed eye glasses.  That made this new noisy world fuzzy at about five feet away in any direction.

Charles & Caroline Ingalls

Charles & Caroline Ingalls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one thing I remember focusing in on very clearly was story time.  The teacher was reading “Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Mesmerized within the first paragraph or two, I sat entranced, absorbing every word. I lived for those few precious pages our teacher read to us each day.  I was so spellbound that I started reading these fourth grade level books as soon as I could talk the librarian into letting me check one out.

I loved the world Laura inhabited. Even the difficult things she dealt with didn’t deter my desire to live her life in the wild countryside.  It was a small, manageable world with daily adventures and the perils of nature and society ever-present.

Fast forward a few decades or more.

I am not naïve and brainless. I don’t spend my time watching reality TV or sitcoms. I consider myself informed, well-read, educated, literate, book smart, experienced in the school of hard knocks. I’ve lived through more than a few things, survived a few close calls, I know what real life dishes out. I’m no second grader, not any more.

Since I started blogging, my reading and learning has expanded.  It’s as if, once again, I’ve been transported to a new school, with a new curriculum, in a world that never sleeps. I’ve read blogs from all over the world, learned about things I never dreamed existed, followed the rants and responses to topics that amaze and fascinate me. CNN, BBC, NBC, PBS et al have nothing on bloggers and writers and their ability to inform, entertain, enlighten and share and touch raw nerves.

Here’s the thing.  Instead of a lovely, manageable novel or two of a tiny world, I’ve stumbled upon the entire planet. At least it seems like it.  Suddenly I am feeling guilty for the life of ease I live as I realize someone in Pakistan or Ghana or Croatia is reading my words, my life, my wonderland.  I marvel at the audacity of Americans to think they are the center of the Universe and somehow qualified to make decisions for the rest of the planet. I am breathless as I learn of tiny countries and the families and people that live day-to-day, hand to mouth, oblivious to the worries I think are important. The foundational ideas that make me who I am have developed a few hairline fissures as I’ve tried to balance other world views on the same ground.  The ridiculous and the sublime compete for my time and brainpower.

Superman logo

Superman logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hover between two desires. I want to go back to having no eyeglasses, the world a vague and fuzzy place like it was four months ago. And I want to miraculously have laser vision, a flying cape and super powers, endless resources, time and energy to save, help, lift, care for and make an impact.

There I am thinking I have something to contribute having barely skimmed the surface of information.  Silly me.

I want to go back to focusing on my tiny family of six, or my expanded family of sisters and brothers and parents, or even my extended family with cousins and aunts and uncles. I want the ease of worrying over people in my small community and trying to find time for a few friends who need a listening ear or a friendly face.

I barely manage to work, fix dinner, do laundry and keep the house clean. Occasionally I’m able to help out a friend, call a sibling, touch base with someone I feel a responsibility toward.  If I gave up sleep I still couldn’t care for all the people in my life I want to care for, love, share with and spend time around.  How can I possibly do anything with all this new information, this new sense of weight, responsibility and worry I have for the rest of the world?

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The genie can’t be stuffed back into the bottle.  And, unfortunately, I can’t make a wish and have phenomenal cosmic powers.

Here is one itty bitty woman with tiny resources, 24 hours in my day, with a new weight trying to settle in on my shoulders.

Part of me wants to disconnect from the internet, move to a distant, isolated tract of land and simply live a small quiet life.  But I can’t.  Even if I could, I couldn’t.

I’ve heard the stories, I know they’re out there. Reality is too real. I am lost and probably about to miss the bus again.

A good book isn’t going to give me a grip on anything at this point.  Maybe I just need to step back, clean off my glasses and try to pull things in to focus.

Categories: The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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