5 lessons in 5 years in 500 words

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Hey, this one is going to run over 500 words – in format but not in spirit. WordPress has just helpfully informed us that our blog project has been going for 5 years now, so we are permitting ourselves a little bit of celebration.

The challenge in writing about life’s lessons is how to maintain some sense of humility. Especially, how to do it without sounding priggish, smug, sacerdotal, holier-than-thou or generally up ourselves. We must let our readers judge us on that score.

An unexpected outcome is that this blog has so often become a way to write ourselves through tough times, hard issues and perplexing questions. So thanks for bearing with us, dear readers, through those struggles, strictures and musings.  Thank you also to our occasional guest bloggers for sharing their own wisdom.

To celebrate the anniversary, then, it seems right to share 5 lessons of 100 words each, to comply with our self-imposed limit. Here they are, 3 from Belinda and 2 from David:

David

It takes a village

When we moved to Leura 6 years ago, I knew one person there. I was spacially and socially dislocated. It took me 12 months just to learn to dress for the weather. Eventually I found the courage to put out tentacles into the community, and started to get involved in things – community activities and services. That outreach has given me camaraderie, enjoyment and a sense of place and of belonging. I found that the more I nurtured the community, the more it nurtured me. Walking through your village and saying g’day to people – nothing like it.

Smile and STFU

Over the last 3 or 4 years I have learned the value of not saying what I’m about to say. When I resist the temptation to share what is pissing me off, or to give the benefit of some opinion I hold, I can feel the sense and the comfort in having STFU. I just have to remember to trade the ephemeral satisfaction of having spilled whatever is getting under my skin for that comfort. I’m so much better off if, before I open my mouth, I pause and think, not just “is this true?”, but “is it helpful?”.

Belinda

You are more loved than you know

The past five years traced an arc from halfway through my marriage to two years after it ended. That dissolution was the most painful thing I’ve ever faced. But I was astonished by the outpouring of love and support from my family and friends. It came not just from the people who I expected it from, but also from many unexpected quarters. And so I came to find that with all this love wrapped around me, it became easier to live without the love of a partner.

When all else fails, write

Maybe writing’s not your thing. Maybe it’s music,  meditation or running. Whatever it is, we all need a way to get out of our head. For me, writing and lifting weights helps me process the busy-ness of my brain – they are a retreat and a release. A dentist once told me that if your gums bleed when you floss, it means you need to do it more, not less. Similarly, if I don’t want to write, I know that means I really need to.

In the end, you have to do the work

The inner work. The self-awareness stuff, where you deal with your flaws and your demons and your mistakes, and work out how to fix them – or at least make peace with them. The trouble is, some people don’t want to do the work, or they don’t know how to. They shy away from the pain , and end up trapped inside their narratives. That doesn’t make them bad people; it just makes them unhappy. I know the work never ends. I don’t pretend to have mastered it. But I hope I am always willing to do it.

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David and Belinda. Always learning. Always prone to navel-gazing. And always fond of a father-daughter selfie.

(title image from legal studies.com)

 

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