Fall is here. The summer is fast gone and the nights are damp and chill. The last quarter of 2016 is almost upon us. With our son's wedding just in front of us and all the exciting changes in our family this year, I've been thinking about some of the things I've learned.
I used to laugh when my grandparents would say, "when I was your age we had to milk the cow if we wanted milk," and things like that. In the last few years, I've heard myself saying to my children, "when I was in college, we didn't have smartphones or Google or even a home computer--we had to go to the library and use the card catalog to look up something." That makes me feel old. It also makes me feel very lucky and very blessed. Why? Because I got to experience things at a slower pace. Not as slow as my parents and grandparents, but slow compared to now. And I'm grateful for it.
I still like to read real books. I like to turn the pages and make notes in the margins. I like how they smell when they are new and when they are old. They can be expensive and take up shelf space. Just ask my husband. My biggest fantasy is bookcases covering entire walls in every room of the house, filled to the rafters with books. As it is, we have a bevy of books and bookcases already filled. There are books on tables and desks and everywhere you look and I think we'll have to move soon to a house more suited to all these bookcases. We do read them, too. We don't just look at them. The library is my other happy place. I ran into the former head librarian of our local library a few months ago. She has long since retired, but she remembered me and asked about my children. I know those women must have hated seeing us coming every week, each with our own bag filled with 15 books, there to get another 15, so 45 total. Every week, for years. Yes, I'm sure that's why she still knows our names.
I like to talk to people on the phone and not text. Texting is fine for, "I'm on my way home," or "can you pick up the dry cleaning." It's not conducive to conversation. At least not if you want to have a healthy relationship with a person.
I like to cook real food from scratch. I love to go out for Indian or Thai food, true, but I really like to cook. When I'm feeling up to it, I love to get in the kitchen and make mean Italian meatballs or lasagna. Maybe Russian meat dumplings, or Irish Shepherd's Pie with real potatoes that have been peeled and mashed with lots of butter, milk, and salt. I love to make cherry pie with the real sour cherries and crust. My kids have never had maple syrup from the store; I've always made it while the hotcakes are on the griddle.
I like to sit out on our deck on summer evenings and eat supper from a plate on my lap, my husband and kids around me, as we visit for hours, long after the dishes are empty. I like to draw and paint and make things with my hands. I love to sew when I have time and don't mind the mess for a few days. I love to write real letters on pretty paper and send them with a stamp.
I love the technology we have today. It makes writing this blog possible and doing my work from home a reality. It makes it easy to buy clothes, since I never have to go the mall. The good stores deliver, so it's all just a click away. Technology actually allows me more time to do the slow, old-fashioned things I prefer. Because I don't have to commute to my job, I have more time to play the piano. Because I can write this blog in my nightgown, in bed, it's more fun to do. And because of the internet, I have resources right at my fingertips. No more Dewey Decimal System, even though I do miss those cards.
Not too many years ago, I turned 50, revealing that I'm more than halfway done with my life. I'm sure I won't make it to 100, at least I hope I won't. I'm excited for this next phase of my journey, a right of passage and reward for all I have accomplished and survived. I feel I've earned the right to speak my mind. Not that I ever haven't, but maybe I hadn't earned it yet. I think I have the right to expect certain things from certain people and situations. I think I've learned how to listen to my heart and gut and know when something is true and when it's not. I've learned many things and I know I'll always be learning more.
A mere handful of things I've learned so far:
1. There are always two sides to every story. Make sure you hear both.
2. What goes around really does come around. Be careful what you send around.
3. People just want to be understood.
4. If you're tired of getting burned, don't go near the fire.
5. People can change, but they usually don't.
6. When someone shows you who they really are, it's best to believe them.
7. Forgiveness is between me and Jesus; it doesn't mean I'm OK with what happened.
8. Difficult things happen to good and wonderful people.
9. We all will die, it's just a matter of when. I want to be ready.
10. People are inherently good. We were all created in God's image.
11. Getting married and having a family is my greatest accomplishment.
12. Jesus Christ is real and He keeps His promises.
Soon it will be October and it's gorgeous outside. Our son is coming home to be married to a beautiful girl and it's going to be spectacular! The Halloween haunted houses and hot chocolate are calling my name. The brief days will require soups and bread, blankets and books, and burrowing down for the dark and thoughtful winter. I'm feeling happy and grateful. I'm remembering all my blessings and God's wondrous goodness. It would be dreamy if things were simpler, if the world would stay away from me and I'd like more time with my family and to think. I have need to read good books and sleep well, and steam grapes for juice come October. I want to remain ignorant about what's on television and who is famous. I want to look at picture albums and make new ones. It would be terrific to learn new music for Christmas and make a few new recipes in the slow cooker. I want time to discern what's important for me to choose in the next scene of my story. Autumn is my favorite season and I'm thrilled it's finally here. I'm more than ready to turn the page again.
I hope you enjoy this song, "Turn the Page Again" by Tim O'Brien.