lessons i can’t teach you

some lessons that can only be learned firsthand, not taught:

1. being ‘part of the solution’ doesn’t come with preference settings. it generally involves other people with their own established goals and lifestyle that differ dramatically from your own. i.e. they get to call the shots or lay down the terms on what constitutes a solution, and it probably won’t be convenient or simple. it may even be messy and disturbing. that comes with the territory, and you just have to adapt to meet the challenge. sometimes it won’t turn out as horrible as you imagined it. usually everyone survives. unless they were terminal anyway. you’re only one person, and will never get it all right, whether they ‘get it’ or not. the bottom line is to stick it out, and not back down because you’re afraid you won’t be adequate to the responsibility. you might even learn more adaptation skills.

2.’ keeping it simple’ isn’t a concept that people naturally grasp or gravitate to. life is complex and complicated, and whether your choices and decisions are intentional, necessary, or unconscious, the consequences will pile up and complicate and limit your options. at some point, you’re at the point of no return, and can’t easily undo the layers, without doing some damage. only you will know when you have reached that crossroads at which you realize which parts of your life are just complicated hindrances that need to go, and which are essential elements of a conscious decision or direction. the trick is in getting the priorities sorted, then eliminating the nonessential, one piece at a time, ruthlessly. your own experience will signal you when the important must be salvaged from the superfluous, and the latter let go of. no one else can determine that for you, but they can help you manage it once you’ve reached that point.

3. this one seems so obvious that i hesitate to even bring it up, but it bears repeating, if only to myself. remembering how it was at various stages of your life, and then being patient with people who are coming up behind you going through their own versions, is essential to maturing. it can be so natural and tempting to just block out and try to forget those difficult passages you survived, and then turn around and be insensitive and critical of others struggling through their own changes. many people grow up and simply shut off their childhood experiences, especially trauma. this is understandable and natural. but then they inadvertently superimpose their own fractured world views on those they care about, forgetting that these are unique individuals with different experiences and hopes. in fact, these younger folks may be the ones to accomplish some healing in this world that we were unable to, with all our damage and dysfunction, if we just give them the chance.

i might add that if any of the above sounds familiar or even borrowed, i am simply affirming ideas that are not unique to me, although i am learning them for myself. ironically, i often learn them from the experiences of younger people. you know who you are! is that a contradiction in terms? a paradox? you tell me. i just call it as i see it. you’ll have to find out for yourself!

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