Words of Wisdom and Other Fragile Things
(A repost from an old blog. I promise new material, soon. But this hasn’t been read by many, so it’s most likely new to you. Or newish.)
There are lessons that no one can teach you. Things you must learn for yourself. Villains you have to face. Sometimes, they steal a piece of you. Sometimes, you are able to draw first. There are days and instances where you win. They can be few and far between.
But everything that happens to you teaches you something. Or it should.
No one tells you how to deal with a broken heart. There’s no fail-safe, cure-all. No Tylenol for that kind of pain. No miracle pill, coated in chocolate. (If there were, you’d have to wait three hours to go swimming. And if you needed to save the person you love, you better have help. And a wheel barrow.) There is no rule book for love. There are those who keep score. There are friends who act more like enemies. There will be moments in life that stun you. You will find yourself baffled at not being chosen by someone. That feeling, unfortunately, isn’t relegated to gym class and kickball.
People who you love(d) will move on. Someday, you will pass each other on the street. Perhaps you’ll nod. Perhaps not. Maybe you’ll stop and catch up – at least exchange pleasantries. You will attempt to focus on the conversation, instead of remembering the feel of fingers on your skin or lazy Sunday breakfasts. This could reopen on an old, never-quite-healed wound. Time will stitch it closed, haphazardly, again.
When in doubt, remember your friends. Cherish them. Consider them. Make sure they treat you well. Make sure you treat them well. Do not take them for granted. You probably are. We often do. Strive to show little kindnesses. They add up. They change destinies. They heal broken moments almost as well as cheesecake.
Be kind to your siblings, even if they drive you crazy. Chances are, you were already crazy to begin with. Don’t pick a fight over a little toothpaste in the sink – but failing to replace the roll of toilet paper is grounds for torture. Or, at the very least, a wet willy. And yes, you all will remember the exact same Christmas differently. Get used to it. You’ll be senile, eventually. Think of it as practice.
No one tells you, precisely, how to deal with an ill parent. Or how to see someone you love suffer greatly – without being able to lift a finger. No one explains how to sit in hospital room, or how to wait outside for news. You have to learn to breathe in those moments, to focus on what you are doing. Otherwise, you will spill your coffee. You will run into walls. And you will accidentally break things.
No one teaches you how to fall in love without losing yourself. Sometimes, it is a battle. There’s a certain comfort in belonging to another person. A warmth. Like a cozy bed on a cold day. It’s almost safer, easier to stay there. To give in to it. But it’s not always wiser. You cannot be loved for who you are, if you do not know who you are, alone.
Being alone isn’t the end of the world. There are people who will tell you it is, as if you cannot be complete on your own. Those are the people who lack the courage to see what it’s like to stand by themselves. They do not dance around their houses naked. They do not sing, off-key or otherwise. And they’ve never painted their dogs nails pink.
Playing it perfectly safe is easy. It isn’t necessarily more fun. There’s no checklist that leads to happiness. The path isn’t always straight. It’s often narrow. There are many forks in the road. It is better to choose one than to have one chosen for you.
If you dream (and you do), dream in any size. Big or small. It’s just important to dream. It’s also important to love, even if it ends up breaking your heart.
No, these are things no one teaches you. Because no one can teach them. These are things to be discovered. And you might pause to read what I have written here. You might think you understand what I mean. But in the end, some things must be felt to truly be seen.
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.” ~ Neil Gaiman