There is still so much more to learn

barley field

I’ve learned to shrug my shoulders at life a little quicker than I used to.

I’ve learned that no matter the enormity or the triviality, the things we toss and turn over are really never ours to contemplate, and surely not within our power to negotiate and resolve. We are, for the most part, an observer in this life. It takes some measure of wisdom to reach this realization.

Tell the truth. Especially to yourself.

This brief directive came to me by way of a gift from a dear friend, a book titled Lists to Live By. It seems a good guidebook to accompany me as we work our way through this new year and a new decade.

This is the third collection, compiled by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens and John Van Diest. This book of lists is subtitled, for everything that really matters.

When it comes right down to it, much of life requires us to figure things out as we go, to think on our feet, no matter how much we’d like to believe we are prepared through our education and upbringing.

Simple advice

This book is so great because it is so simple. It offers brief advice on everything from running a home to running a life, parenting a teen, knowing when it’s time to let go.

The page titled When it’s time to let go reads, “Remember…your child is not the legitimate center of life (he is profoundly instructive, satisfying and pleasurable, but temporary).” So simple, so true.

One page carries the heading, Surviving Bad Days and advises us to go ahead and gripe a little bit to someone who cares while reminding ourselves that 24 hours from now, this day will be over. After pushing my way through a frustrating, challenging day yesterday, I needed this.

A favorite notation on faith advises, “The only way to learn strong faith is to endure strong trials,” a quote attributed to George Mueller. I could have used this book along my way through this journey.

I know that there have been times I’ve created mountains out of molehills, saw monsters when there were none, wrestled a few hundred situations which I made much more stressful instead of just letting go.

Let it go

Life is filled with difficult people and challenging situations. I wish I had learned a long time ago just to laugh at some of the craziness. Sometimes laughter is an answer. Sometimes it is the only answer.

Sometimes saying nothing at all is a whole lot better than trying to argue and cajole and prove a point that no one seems to want to hear, no matter how true it might be.

And the louder we speak, the less anyone will hear, because it only incites the desire to come up with something even louder and packed with more punch.

I wish I had learned a long time ago that traveling lightly is a very good thing. Life is short, so it’s wise to find a way to be happy along the brief journey.

Accept that attitude is everything and those who choose to embrace the changing tides almost never drown. I wish I had figured out a long time ago that dessert is sometimes all I really want.

Though we might long for childhood, there are times like these it is great to be a grown-up. Stay up late, find a day here and there to sleep in a bit, and enjoy every single bite of that dessert.

Some of this stuff I have figured out for myself. The rest I am learning from this great book of lists. I’ll let you know when I attain a new level of wisdom.

If I’ve learned nothing else, it is that we never stop learning. If we acknowledge that there is still so much more to know, we will be better humans, better parents, spouses and friends.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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