I’m trying something new with my [Terrace Standard] column this year, a theme if you will. At this point, it’s set to continue for a full twelve months. I wonder if I’ll stick with it—oh, the mystery, oh, the intrigue! And what is this theme of which I speak? Well, though I’m being kind of silly in this introduction, it’s sort of serious. And it intimidates the heck out of me.
Things I want my children (and future grandchildren) to know.
See why it’s terrifying? It’s bad enough when you say things aloud when there are witnesses, especially if it becomes dreadfully apparent that you were totally out to lunch. But with verbalized opinions, at least you can always say you were misquoted or taken out of context (and if it’s my kids or husband quoting me, 99 percent of the time I am being purposely misrepresented!). With written ponderings? They’re always there to haunt you.
And I already know that some of the things I think I’ve learned will change. In fact, I look forward to it and even jotted a note in my journal, “Revisit this when I’m 63!” It can’t be helped, nor would I want it to be. Sometimes we fail to speak about deep subjects because we’re so aware of all we still don’t know, all the ways we fail to live as we believe we should, and all the things we have yet to figure out. But that’s a mistake. Hopefully we’re always learning and growing; I’d better know more in twenty years than I do today!
So what brought on this lofty goal of sharing any so-called wisdom I may have gleaned to date? A number of things, but I’ll just share the biggest one.
Many years ago, when I was a very young teenager, I went out to the shop in our yard to get my dad for dinner and I found him talking into a tape recorder and crying. Even now it’s a really hard memory for me. He was horribly embarrassed. I was horribly embarrassed.
He apologized and tried to explain. He was just very lonely, and didn’t have anyone to really talk to about certain things. And so he talked into a recorder while he worked. It helped him sort through and make sense of some stuff.
While the explanation made the whole thing even harder for me, or I should say, sadder, it was also a very good lesson—on being a grown-up (something that at that point I still equated as being a magical state of everything-wonderful) and on being human.
People are meant to ease the loneliness of existence by communicating and sharing the load of all the questions, worries, fears and doubts that come hand-in-hand with living—and the flipside is true too: we’re meant to share the joy and delight and the good, too. But so often, for so many reasons, we don’t, or can’t, or feel we shouldn’t.
Sometimes the reasons we hold back are valid. Over-sharing adult problems with children isn’t healthy for them. And some details are private or, at the very least, not ours to tell. Other times, however, it’s the result of flawed thinking—feeling we have to appear strong or infallible before sharing an opinion. Or it’s because we’re deeply insecure. The list could go on and on. . . .
Yet there are things you learn as you travel through life, insight gleaned through hard knocks—and good times—that you want to pass on. Sometimes we just have to be brave enough to risk looking dumb and rest easy, knowing that whether our thoughts are received in the spirit we mean them or not, at least we tried to convey them.
I won’t be breaking any taboos over the next year, but I will tackle some of the things I care about and have come to believe are important—maybe even critical—to a happy life.