Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

We Are Here to Learn and Grow

Age Has Its Rewards; Wisdom is one of them.

I think life is about what you learn and how much you grow as you live it. I’ve been wondering lately about what I’ve learned and I can think of a few things. I’m old. There’s no help for it. I’ll be 70 in August.

Actually, I don’t mind it at all. I see my age as a sort of banner that I have made it this far. I’m proud of my age. Every wrinkle was earned. Many do not learn, they just live. I also happy to know I broke down some barriers that may help younger women have an easier time of it — although the fight rages on.

Reading a few other stories here got me to thinking not only about how much I have grown in my life, but how much my parents grew in theirs.

My mother’s last vote was more against Donald Trump more than it was for Joe Biden. She lamented there weren’t more left of her generation — The Greatest Generation — to throw his butt out of there. She voted absentee since it’s so hard for her to negotiate the tiny elevator in the courthouse. Because she fell and suffered a brain injury just a day before the election, she never really got to know how it turned out. I tell her, and each time she seems to understand, but she forgets in the next few minutes.

Mother learned a lot in her life, too. She was a poor, abused, girl living in a house that most would describe as a shack; And the railroad track was only about 50–60 feet from the front door. She rose to a job running the note department of a small bank, then to construction management. Her work in construction allowed her to live and work in many of the nation’s large cities and be an integral part of large construction projects that changed the face of cities.

My dad was always my biggest fan and he always followed stories I was covering for the newspaper — and sometimes nudged me to investigate further. He was an activist. A retired union man, he was always for the underdog. Although there are multiple things I remember about my dad, mostly I remember that he grew wise with age. He grew up in a time (1925–2005) when segregation was the norm. His father would not address a black man as “sir,” or “mister.” And he taught his son that. But it didn’t stick on dad. He denounced racism and all it’s forms before I was even out of high school. .

Mom and dad both grew up to reject racism and all it’s terrible faces. They learned better than the way they were raised. they both truly raised themselves above their raising.

I wonder if I have grown in wisdom? I think I have. And I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share. I wish I had known them earlier in my life.

  1. No one respects a man or woman who tries too hard to be accepted and respected.
  2. Nothing you learn is ever a waste.
  3. One must learn to treat himself/herself with dignity and respect before anyone else will.
  4. Not everyone who has an impressive education is smart.
  5. People will take advantage of those who put themselves out there to be victimized.
  6. Music smooths everything in life.
  7. Those who read cannot be caged — the mind will go as it pleases.
  8. Skin color is truly only skin-deep. We will have become a non-racist society only when we do not use color as the first descriptor of a person.
  9. Men will take whatever women will give them and not value anything from a women that was easily won. (I know, it’s old-fashioned, but it just happens to be true).
  10. No one gives up power easily. All the power is held by rich white men. The only way for women and minorities to get any power is to snatch it from the hands of rich white men. They will continue to fight us as if for their lives, because they cannot imagine a life with women in control.
  11. The most important thing in any marriage is respect. (I should know, I’ve had four). It will sustain even when love isn’t in the picture.
  12. One of the biggest problems with our nation is that about half of us don’t have enough sense to vote.
  13. Too many Americans are still unable to feel empathy for our own desperately poor — and nevermind the poor of other countries.
  14. We Americans have a “it couldn’t happen here” false sense of security that will be our downfall.
  15. Women are better equipped to lead because most of us lack the need to show off our macho. Wars have been fought because men need to show off.
  16. If you know a lot, don’t show it. People will think you are a smartass.
  17. Some people will bring catastrophe down on themselves twice (or more) before they learn to avoid the behaviors that led to it.
  18. Hard work isn’t rewarded to the extent we say it is. Working smart is much better. Hard workers are often just mistreated.

I might learn or remember more before I kick the bucket, but, number 16 applies right now. And I don’t want you to think of me as a smart ass. Although I am. A little. I guess.

Don’t worry. Be happy. Grow old…and wise. The age will come anyway, and you have to struggle to avoid the wisdom.

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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