It’s been a difficult 9 months; our rhythm of life has been disrupted BIG TIME! (The song “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift keeps popping in my head) However, I was reminded of something by my granddaughters’ first-grade teacher recently. When her students are struggling to accomplish something in her class, she tells them “you can do hard things, go try again and if you can’t figure it out, come back and let’s talk about it”. Ninety percent of the time, the children figure it out on their own. Which of course brings confidence in their abilities and strengthens their cognitive skills. A great reminder that doing hard things is a principle of life. We are better humans when we don’t shy away from hard things.
We all encounter obstacles. These gnarly things that pop into our life journey that sends us somewhere we didn’t see ourselves going. Maybe it’s a flat tire on your car buried in snow after you have worked a mandatory 16-hour shift. Or maybe it’s an unexpected medical bill that sent your budget sideways for the next few months. Or maybe it’s caring for an elderly parent or loved one, divorce, or the loss of someone you love. Or maybe it’s a pandemic! The point is, we all endure hard things in life. Managing these detours takes courage, vulnerability, patience, understanding, stamina, and grace toward each other and for ourselves.
Thinking about this principle reminded me of the book I read as a young adult. “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulgum. It has been a book that stuck with me throughout my life. If you haven’t read it, consider it. It is a short, feel-good read. I thought I would share an excerpt here:
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So, do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all—the whole world—had cookies and milk.
When I reflect upon all the many obstacles that I have come across in my life, I think about how I navigated through them. Often, it was uncomfortable, challenging, stimulating, scary, lonely, difficult, and satisfying. Without the hard experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Even though the detours were messy and sometimes downright ugly, I wouldn’t change a thing.