I remember sitting in my final assembly at high school, and hearing a poem about how to be successful in life. It was a simple poem, with simple advice. A poem I am sure most of us have heard before. It was written by Robert Fulghum, and was called All I really need to know I learned at Kindergarten. For some reason this poem, and its simple message, has stuck with me. That is not to say I personally have lived my life exactly to the credo it depicts, but I try. Lately I have found myself questioning people (to myself, that is!). Questioning why some people do the things they do, say the things they say, hurt others so easily, forget the important things in life, forget how to act like a good friend, a good sibling, parent, spouse, basic human being. And no - this is NOT directed at anyone in particular. It is more a commentary from the peanut gallery. Again, I'm Just Saying - if the shoe fits, wear it - and I am the first to admit when it fits me! We all need reminding, sometimes, of these simple rules of life.
(I have saved the poem to a separate page at the top. It really is worth a read.)
Lesson 1: Share everything
People don't share anymore. From recipes, to information, from time to friends. As I try to teach this lesson to my own kids (at 9 they are at this incredibly competitive age, and "its MINE" seems to be their immediate response to anything!), I often think how much easier it would be as adults if we remembered to share more. From "he can't be your friend, he's mine", to "no, those brownies are a family secret", and "I'm sorry, if I help you with that, then I have less time to do my own thing". What happened to Barney telling us sharing is caring? Sharing time, resources, friendships does not detract from our own quota. It enhances it. Before I get hit with a "be careful what you wish for", however, I have to point out that there are two areas in which we are more than happy to share - the giving of unsolicited-uninformed-ill timed-advice, and the sharing of gossip. Two areas where perhaps some restraint and circumspection should be maintained!
Lesson 2: Play Fair
Seems pretty self explanatory, yet for some reason, not so much! The order of the day seems to be take as much as you can from someone (be it time, money, effort, friendship, advice, support), and then sit back. At what point do we become suckers for always being on the giving side of the fair play line, and never the receiving? Playing fair, in my book, is not simply tit for tat, but instead is having consideration for those around us, for those in our lives, for those who mean something to us. If you are going to take, be prepared to give.
Lesson 3: Don't hurt anyone (and if you do, say sorry, and don't do it again)
Again, so simple, yet so ignored! There are things we do in life, that hurt, and scar those around us. Speaking ill of people close to us and thinking they will never know, not standing up for those we love, not being there when we say we will, breaking promises, repeating the same behavior and actions over and over, knowing the repercussions will be dire. Before our kids learn that this lesson extends beyond the don't-hit-your-brother-in-the-eye-with-a-wet-face-cloth, they need to learn that yes, sticks and stones DO break bones, but words hurt just as much. And before we begin to teach our kids this, we as adults, need to relearn and start to practice what we preach.
Lesson 4: Live a Balanced Life
The shoe is fitting too well with this one! I have a tendency to become very overly focused on whatever I am doing at any given time, and the balance that is so important in life, goes right out the window! I need to keep reminding myself to ensure both sides of the scale are proportional at all times! I know I'm not alone in this! There is more to life than just work. Or just play. Or just one friend. Or just your spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend. The more we focus on one area in isolation and to the detriment of all the others, the more chance we having of losing those other areas completely. And as we all know, it is far more difficult to recover what is lost, than to maintain what we have.
Lesson 5: Be aware of Wonder
Life spirals out of control at an alarming rate. Before we blink, the calm that was yesterday, is the mania of today. We blink and our kids grow up; we hesitate, and we lose opportunities; we run, and we miss the smell of the roses. I swear Christmas was only last week - yet here we are, singing to Boney M and trying to remember where we packed the tree lights. This particular lesson is a big one for me right now. To remember that life is for living, for enjoying, for savoring. To enjoy the big moments, and to appreciate the small ones. Before we realize it, its all gone. And its too late.
Read the poem, remember the lessons, and instead of just nodding in agreement, practice what is surely a simple recipe for a successful life. Ever the nerd (;)), I plan on resuscitating these forgotten rules, and enforcing them in myself, and hopefully in my kids. There is something in them for everyone... I'm Just Saying...