The older I get, the more childlike I feel. Perhaps it is realizing that, like Jon Snow, I know nothing. Or maybe it is just the fact that, knowing that I know nothing, I am eager to change that.
Fortunately, life (like the seasons) often circles back upon itself. It provides time for do-overs. We can learn again the things we have learned before and long since forgotten. Thank God for do-overs. Hopefully, I am getting it right this time around.
As a child, I knew that it felt good to kick of my shoes and feel the cool earth beneath my feet. As a young adult, I wore stylish shoes, too high heels, and footwear that would never be mistaken for as “sensible.” Now, I can go days without wearing shoes, and I make sure to plant my heels firmly on the grass each day and to feel the earth under foot.
As I child, I lost entire days between the pages of books. Pale and hungry I’d emerge from my room just long enough to find sustenance before returning to find out just what happened to Laura Ingalls this time. As a young adult, I read for a diploma but rarely for pleasure. Then, with diploma in hand, I went to work. Metaphors and similes were replaced with legalese. Page after page of words that cost a lot…but which said very little. Now I have stumbled back between the pages, and I have written some pages myself. And I have rediscovered the beauty and value of words on a page.
As a child, I snuck home a stray kitten and hid them in my closet. I snuck them food and water, made a makeshift litter box out of a shoebox and, when soon discovered, begged and pleaded with my parents to be able to keep her. As a young adult, I stifled my love of animals. With animals came responsibilities, and expense, and inconvenient attachments. While I avoided such attachments, I also missed out on the unconditional love and joy they bring. Now I have three cats, a dog, and four chickens. (And a very tolerant husband who does not bemoan the investment of time or money for their care.) Chickens may be “verra poor company,” but they are a very sweet distraction. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it…EGGS!
As I child, I knew that I was well cared for. I never fretted about it. I just knew. As a young adult, I wanted to prove that I needed no one, that I was capable and competent and that everything was under control. Life laughed a lot and quickly showed me who was boss. (Hint: It wasn’t me!) As an adult, I realize that very little is in my control. But I feel cared for anyway. I am surrounded by people who care. I am surrounded by more kindness and generosity than I could ever imagine.
As a child, I never thought about what I looked like or how much I weighed. I was just me. And that was enough. As a young adult, I tried unhealthy things to obtain what I believed to be a “healthy” look. I dyed my hair black. I permed it. I straightened it. I wore colored contacts. If I looked at myself in a mirror too long the faults were magnified and would ruin my entire day. I took cover behind make-up like a warrior behind his shield. Now, I rarely wear makeup. My “hair style” is whatever I hack off late at night when I realize it is getting unruly. I have traded contacts for glasses, and I can go days without looking at a mirror. I hike and run–not for what it does to my waist line, but for what it does for my soul.
Finally, at 43 I am comfortable in my own skin. I don’t know quite how we will manage all the medical issues, and the medical bills, and the fifteen year old van that is on its last leg, and…well, all of those “real life” things. But we will. Somehow, we will.
I know nothing.
But I know that.