"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Top Ten

The year 2010 has ended, and as I was pondering this I was seized by yet another ruminative mood. I sat with my notepad, staring out the window and wondering what I had to say about this year, this decade, this life. I wasn't sure what I was expecting to write, but what I ended up with was a kind of letter to myself ten years ago, or maybe a letter to anyone who is still entangled in adolescence as I was then. It's the top ten things life has taught me so far-- my top ten from 2010, to be corny. And yes, most of what I found I had to say is a little cheesy, but I didn't let that stop me. These are the things I have found to be undeniably true.

I hope it's not narcissistic of me to put this on my blog... or at least, that it's no more narcissistic than the average blog post. And who knows, maybe you are all feeling ruminative, too.

My Top Ten (in no particular order)

  • Sometimes being right doesn't matter. Sometimes it doesn't give you the moral high ground. Sometimes it hurts others. Sometimes there is no right, but simply what works and what doesn't.
  • Of all the dumb ways I've spent my time and energy, being jealous of others seems in retrospect to be the dumbest of all. It also seems cowardly: it was a way for me to as questions about the happiness of others instead of my own. 
  • Possessions accumulate. Eventually an increasing number of possessions becomes a burden, a hassle. Things must be cleaned and stored and organized. Experiences, on the other hand, never pile up or collect dust. Doing is a much better investment than getting.
  • Faith and doubt can, and perhaps even should, keep company. Questioning your beliefs-- by which I mean subjecting them to logical and moral scrutiny-- is one of the most responsible things you can do as a growing human being. When you have rigorously examined what it is you believe, why you believe it, what the implications are for how you conduct your life, and have integrated your doubts and misgivings, then your faith truly becomes your own. Until then it is simply borrowed from someone else.
  • I find I am infinitely happier when I choose forgiveness. Do not forgive someone based on whether or not he or she deserves it, but based on whether or not you can offer it. Yes, some things cannot be forgiven, but the vast majority can, and you may not be able to tell the difference right away. Keep trying. It is a kindness you do for yourself.
  • Relationships between people cannot be fully understood by an outside party, even a close one. This should be the enormous caveat to every judgment a person makes about the relationships of others. In some cases it ought to shut them up entirely.
  • Forget about doing work that you think you should and instead just do whatever it is that makes you feel whole. An immigrant youth case worker is no more noble, no more admirable than a fashion designer if they both live generously and compassionately within their communities. Basically, do what you love and let being a good person flow from there.
  • For a long time I had the concept of patience all wrong: it is not a character trait that some are born with and others are not, nor is it a byproduct of loving every second of your life no matter what. It is simply the skill of seeing the big picture when you are overwhelmed by the details, and it is a skill that must be continually practiced. Sometimes exercising patience is downright unpleasant. Fortunately, grudging patience still  counts, and fortunately it is always worth the effort.
  • In the WWF smackdown between John Lennon's "All You Need is Love" and Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Aretha wins every time. Love without respect is a disaster.
  • There are things for which our society leaves us ill-prepared: Letting go. Waiting indefinitely. Failing graciously. Saying nothing. Not knowing. Understanding when and how to do or accept these things is what I imagine wisdom will be like, should I ever acquire it.

No comments:

Post a Comment