Monday, December 15, 2008

Lessons the Hard Way

Have you ever noticed how, as humans, we tend to learn our lessons the hard way? It's a rather dependable staple of literature, to tell the truth. What would we have done without the hubris of Antigone (I always loved that story) or the tragic mistakes of Romeo and Juliet? It would be awesome if I was able to learn things without messing them up first (often quite royally, I should point out) but the lessons just don't seem REAL until the truth hits me upside the head like a baseball bat. [WHAM!!]

It's especially bittersweet, as I look back on my life and consider my choices (or my lack of choices because of inertia) and then look forward to the lives of my children. I feel that ever-present parental ache of wanting to teach my children what I've learned but I know that I can't. Not really. I hope they'll stand on my shoulders and reach past where I've stood, but I also know that some of my biggest mistakes will be repeated. Perhaps with a slightly more artistic bent or a different twist...but they will probably be repeated. It's the way of the world.

Finally, however, (after 37 years) I understand that my life is interesting (and I am interesting) only because of the slips and falls. Think of it this way....we're all walking on a forest path and it ain't smooth. You've got your boulders in the way, you've got your rickety rope bridges spanning chasms, and you've got those annoying tree roots that creep out of the ground to trip you up. (Got the picture yet?) Eventually, and inevitably, we will stumble. But as we are lying face down in the muck, we might notice a tiny red flower.

Without my own stumbles, I'd never have seen the flower. It doesn't mean the stumbles were ok - as a matter of fact, some of the bruises might never go away. But there's still a beautiful thing in my life that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

So...I guess that's why we learn things the hard way. Sometimes we can't see what we need to see unless we're flat on our stomachs, with battered elbows and knees.

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