In a few days I will turn 43. Last year about this time, I had a lot of fun telling everyone that this year, the year I was 42, I would have the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Maybe it’s because I never did take up meditation, or maybe it’s because I pretended to forget that 42 itself is the answer, but whatever the reason, I did not become magically enlightened this year.
In November I lamented my lack of insight and asked friends on Twitter and Facebook, “What’s your #1 life lesson so far?” They gave me a mix of serious and smart-aleck answers I have collected at the end of this post.
I often say I learn something new every day. After more than two years at my present job, that still feels true at work and I love it. At home . . . well, I learn new things, but my rate of applying that knowledge is significantly slower. Home is where my unproductive ruts and lazy shortcuts thrive.
My #1 life lesson so far is almost 20 years old:
I have the power to completely change my life. Destruction happens faster than construction. Both are hard, but in different ways. I can choose, act, and make change happen.
I learned this by essentially burning my life down over a period of two years. Then I had to rebuild. It made me afraid of – in awe of, in the traditional sense – my own power. This experience helped me to be more careful in my own choices, be less judgmental of other people’s choices, and feel more empowered. But it didn’t fix everything.
My 40th birthday prompted me to write about another significant life-changer: parenthood.
The evidence demonstrates that I can both learn and change, but I remain frustratingly unenlightened; my progress is slow. Translating knowledge into useful action is far easier in some situations than others. Mastering it in all areas may be life’s most important skill.
I’m almost 43 and that’s what I’ve got. Now, here’s the collected wisdom of my online friends, in the order I received it:
What’s your #1 life lesson so far?
- Be vulnerable.
- Never go up against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line! ahahahahaha
- Quitting your job before having a new one lined up is the absolute dumbest thing you can EVER do. Period.
- Don’t eat yellow snow.
- Savor the moments. Savor the taste of the perfect bite of something. Stop for a moment with the sun on your face and feel the breeze. Life is made up of perfect moments – don’t squander or miss them.
- The heavens will open up and pour its secrets out to you and you will rejoice, when the kids finally move out and fly. Fly my little chickadees fly.
- Don’t be on Facebook when you should be getting something productive done.
- More will be revealed.
- Never promise identical twins this is the last time you’ll be mixing them up.
- Always remember to be there for yourself as much as you are there for everyone else.
- It’s complicated.
- Things work out. They just do.
- Don’t panic, and always carry a towel.
- There is a reason for everything and love your family.
- Every bit of wisdom you impart to your children only to be ignored will later speak to them in their brains when the time is right.
- Don’t shit your pants.
- Learn to let go and embrace the situations and moments you are kicking against. You’ll find they often have hidden treasures that enrich and inform your life.
- Prepare for your future always.
- Hunching really is bad for you; sit up straight!
- Choose kindness. Be honest. Rid your life of people who are neither kind nor honest.
- I love sleep.
- Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things?
- God gave you two ears and one mouth so listen more than you talk. This is especially important with raising kiddos. Shut up and listen!
- There is more than one right way to do anything.
Damn, you are smart. I was almost 60 when I figured some of those things out.