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Column: Significant life lessons

Along with pounds one of the things we accumulate as we age are lessons.

The older we become, the more lessons we have collected.

Some are good, some lousy, and some meaningful and important, like those Granddaddyisms I shared with our eldest grandson.

For me at this late stage in my life, I feel like it’s time to summarize. And no better time than on a weekend when we are giving thanks for our many blessings.

So what are the most significant lessons I have learned over the past 86 years? I may well alter the list tomorrow, but today here are my selections. They are in no priority order. Perhaps you may want to think about your own list!

*Intelligence is no guarantee of wisdom nor does sensitivity mean I will be more compassionate toward others. Intent, purpose and commitment must be factored into these equations. I do believe compassion is more critical to my development as a human being than intelligence.

*Making choices, and living with them, is as critical to my quality of life as any other critical factor. Like you, I suspect, I have made some superior choices during the years and some that I wish I hadn’t. I live with both kinds.

*One of the most valuable assets I possess in a sense of humor. Without it I might not have won the heart of My Beloved, nor would I have weathered as well as I have the inevitable crises and downers that have occurred through the years. While I laugh less than I did in the earlier years, I am more sensitive to and appreciative of whimsy, irony, comedy and buffoonery which I observe in the human condition.

*Attitude may not be the most significant thing in my life, but it’s close. I know I see the world not as it is, but as I am. My perception of reality determines my perspectives on life. My attitude is at the root of my perceptions and perspectives.

*What I do not know is infinitely greater than the little I do know and this realization is not only the true source of humility but the reason why I embrace the goal of being an active life-long learner. I have indeed been fortunate to live with a person who has the same goal.

*The natural vulnerability of childhood was followed, in my case, by a determined attempt to wear, during adolescence and early adulthood, a mask of invulnerability. After these years of immaturity, I was fortunate to learn, with the help and understanding of others, that vulnerability means having the strength to acknowledge weaknesses, limitations, uncertainty and confusion. Acknowledging that I am a flawed, imperfect human being was a necessary step to seeking the forgiveness of others.

*There is more to life–and death – than we know. My experiences with the spirit world beyond physical death is one of the most important realities (and attitudes) I carry inside of me.

*It is important to live actively in the present. It is more challenging to do so now, in these later years, than when I was younger. There is a seductive pull of memories vying for attention with the real and compelling concerns for the here and now. Attending to the present is a significant challenge, but an exceedingly essential one.

*It has been critical to develop within me a special place which nourishes my spirit when the outer world seeks to disturb or torment me. My inner world is lively, comforting, supportive, astonishingly provocative, and is tuned frequently to the exploration of wonder and the nurture of curiosity.

*It has long been essential for me to believe in what Marian Wright Edelman calls the Fellowship of Human Beings. The principle of inclusion—not exclusion—of people different from me is critical to my attempt to become fully human. Healing and love are more sensible, humane and necessary for the survival of our earthly family than divisiveness and hatred.

*Finally, to love someone deeply, and be loved in return, is the greatest of personal blessings and the most important lesson I have learned. I am a very fortunate individual.

Okay, what are yours??


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