Accumulative Lessons from Life
If a person is fortunate enough (or blessed) to have lived to retirement age; he or she should have a wealth of knowledge.
Sometimes, an individual uses this knowledge in very positive ways that not only benefit others but himself/herself as well. Other times, the person just sees the knowledge as information that has regretfully been learned much too late to be of any benefit to them.
I prefer to see the glass as being half-full and not half-empty. Experience has to be acquired through a process of trial and error. No one can just hand you their portion—it has to be individually served. Perhaps during our youth we are so busy attempting to accumulate as much as possible in what we consider a brief 24 hour timeframe that we seldom stop to weigh outcomes until after-the-fact.
Let’s examine some of life’s lessons and how they have caused some of us to be “better individuals.”
“In your patience possess ye your souls.” Luke 21:19a KJV.
One of the first things we learn (I hope) is the need to exercise patience. Some of us have displayed large quantities of this virtue when having to stand in long lines especially in the 15 items or less register and the person at the head of the line has at least 25+ objects. Another place where you will truly evoke great amounts of patience is when you are at the doctor’s office. It doesn’t matter whether you are early or on time—you will have to wait. Especially, when going to see an orthopedic physician and he is very well known.
During our youth we designate blocks of times to do various and sundry things and when it seems that there will be overlapping we become anxious. It seems as if nobody appreciates how valuable your time is but you. However, when you are older (usually) we bring things with us to do so that the waiting is not as tedious. These items could include your favorite novel, a needlecraft project or your electronic devise.
Some of our younger counterparts have homed in on this concept and are finding it a good idea. However, pretty soon the eyes drift nervously to the watch and the anxiety begins anew. If life has taught us nothing else; it is that things that are out of your control are not worth fretting over!
“I believe that erasers were put on pencils because of the fact that people make mistakes in LIFE. It is only human to do so.”—Lucas Meyer
It seems that we have more tolerance of our own shortcomings than others—especially if they are in a position of authority. When being shortchanged at the checkout counter; we become rightfully dismayed but there is no reason to verbalize it in an aggressive manner. When we were younger; we tend to expect perfection from everyone. As we age and become the originator of the error; we tend to be more sympathetic. This is not to say that all older people are less likely to criticize but I am looking at this, as I stated in the introduction, in an optimist frame of mind. Again, the consensus is that as we mature we become more understanding.
Let’s say we are rushing to be on time for a very important appointment. In our haste we can put on a black shoe and a navy blue shoe of the same style. We have gotten all the way to our destination when we realize our mistake. Of course we are panicked but there’s not much we can do at this late date. When you are a mature adult, you can fall back to the premise “guess I’m just getting older” and continue with your plans. In the future, you will make sure you plan in advance and double check before leaving home.
A Second Chance
“Left a good job in the city
Working for the man every night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleeping
Worrying 'bout the way things might have been”—Creedence Clearwater Revival
When we are younger, we go to college or some type of technical school to acquire a skill to make a good living. Sometimes our selection of occupation is based on what will generate the most revenue and not necessarily on what we actually love doing. We realize that we have financial obligations: rent/mortgage, utilities, food, health/life insurance and a sundry amount of other things. Unless our career goals are in a field that has a shortage then you will be in competition with a great many other people who are also attempting to satisfy those same sundry needs.
Only after dealing with demanding supervisors, uncooperative coworkers and unreasonable customers do we begin to question our career choices. Then, after several years of toiling away at our unfulfilling jobs do we see the light at the end of a dark tunnel: Retirement! And—if you have managed to put away and sacrifice down through the years—you will be able to enjoy the type of life that you have always desired. You can return to college and take classes in Painting, Floral Arranging, and Creative Writing just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Our Marital Status
“And I’ll be what I am; a solitary man.”—Neil Diamond
This is another lesson that can only be learned by living. If you were raised in an era where there were emphasis placed on being married and raising a large family; then you can definitely appreciate the acquired experience that comes with dealing with spouses, children and what others consider the American Dream. Women who want both a family and a career found many hurdles. Meanwhile their spouses only needed to work and expect his dinner to be on the table when he arrived home; the children properly groomed and well behaved and the wife displaying an award winning smile. Remember the old sitcoms: Donna Reed, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver? Why would anyone clean house and do the gardening in high heel shoes? Thank the heavens for the Women’s Liberation Movement that emancipated all women whether they choose to be or not!
As we aged, we realized that sometimes dirty dishes do get left in the sink if the dishwasher is on the blink and you’ve had a tiring day. Husbands are expected to assist with the domestic chores when both work outside the home. Also, letting your children participate in too many extra-curricular activities can cause parental stress.
We learn that deciding to remain single is NOT a fate worse than death itself and that when the marriage doesn’t work out as planned we are NOT require to suffer through it anyway “for the sake of the offspring!” We embrace our various lifestyles and understand that what is most important is how we see ourselves more than how others see us! Even those of us who prefer a more tradition lifestyle can feel justified in our choices.
“Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong
whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I've gotta be me
what else can I be but what I am”—Sammy Davis Jr
If this seems a bit too flowery or optimistic, then the purpose of this article has been realized. You may recognize those people who have seemed to have learned nothing from their many life experiences—I attempted to focus mainly on those of us who have drunk deeply from the Fountain of Life and returned with a better appreciation of things from it.
If you are still a student of Life—then you have something wonderful to experience on the horizon. A time of life when your main focus is on you—when it’s okay to be selfish—and when it’s your time to be pampered.