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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things I've Learned in Life

Life goes through seasons, and each of them are teachers of different things. Sometimes you learn through watching others, and sometimes you learn by doing things yourself. While we're given many lessons through our own experiences, if we're fortunate we learn a lot of our lessons by following the successful paths that others have set before us, without having to trudge through every experience firsthand.

Aren’t we glad, for example, that we don’t have to personally test every bottle to see if it’s poisonous, but instead that there are warning labels on them? And if you should see someone keel over from drinking one, that ought to be a clue to you as well.

There's nothing inherently wrong with being an individual; being somewhat of a non-conformist in order to think for yourself. We need much of that to be who we each are. Otherwise, we'd be automatons. There's a saying that goes: if two people agree on everything, then only one of them is doing the thinking. Yet there is still a balance that needs to be maintained. Too far one way, and you have no free will. Too far the other way, and you have no direction. At or near either extreme, there is no purpose.

If you believe in a cosmic plan, whatever it is, it probably involves the idea that we're all here on earth to help each other and learn from one another. We'd like to think that we can solve all our own problems ourselves, but it's not supposed to work that way, and it can't. We're supposed to need others. There’s no honor in going it alone.

And that's where it gets tricky. Here again, a proper balance is vital. We need others in our lives to keep us in focus, to support us when we lean too far one way, to motivate us when we lack our own motivation, to give us perspective that our own minds can't provide, and, among other things, to feel love. We're all here to potentially benefit and share with one another, and no one is exempt from needing that support to some extent, or from needing to give it.

Yet we need others in different capacities. Everyone can't be our best friend. Everyone can't be a confidant. Everyone can’t be our mentor. We've only got so much room in our inboxes. There are different levels for different functions. Likewise, everyone can't be there for us all the time when we're in need. The logistics just aren’t there. Hopefully we’re able to find that right niche for each of those important people in our lives, so that our friendship basket doesn’t crush those on the bottom. It needs to have some semblance of orderliness to it.

It's said that the foolish learn from their mistakes, while the wise learn from the mistakes of others. We think we know what's what, but if we did then we would be perfect, and not too many of us are the last time I checked. If we're smart enough to find those who are wise in the areas we may not be and gather advice from them, we can save ourselves valuable time, effort and aggravation.

If we’re all going through a maze, let’s say, and someone we trust has been a little further down a path that we’re curious about and they tell us it’s merely a dead end, it can spare us the trouble. We can all help each other this way, as we’ve all been to different places. And the path that will get us through the maze may not be clearly defined or understood, though there are clues that can help us stay close to it. We can save ourselves a lot of unnecessary backtracking. A little backtracking may provide good exercise and be unavoidable, but continuous backtracking can give you muscle cramps and get you all turned around.

Most of us do seem to have good intentions. Those good intentions, however, still won’t give you the ability to reinvent where the maze goes. Life at its core is admittedly rudimentary, though curiously in a zigzag sort of way. The shortcuts aren’t really shortcuts. They’re banner ads for causing more traffic. And then you get stuck in the maze.

Be good to your friends, and help them find their way within your ability. If you’re getting lost, stop for directions. If you’re near the main path, lots of other people will be coming through.

And this is what I’ve learned from the wise — those who simply have been further down some of the paths or know someone who has.

1 comment:

Sara said...

"Hopefully we’re able to find that right niche for each of those important people in our lives, so that our friendship basket doesn’t crush those on the bottom. It needs to have some semblance of orderliness to it."

I completely agree with this statement. I think. I did at one point anyway. I probably will again at some point, but feel like life is trying to teach me a lesson of some sort. I had, what I thought were good friends. I had a special niche for them in my life. However, things in life change and they are no longer there. I am trying to find the answer as to why. Am I hurt that they chose a path that doesn't include me anymore, or do I feel foolish for thinking them to be better people than they are? I still don't know.

I enjoyed this post of yours.

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