All I Really Need To Know I Learned Since I Turned 60
In 1988 Robert Fulghum published a popular book and poster of his credo that was titled All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
Being a much slower learner, it has taken me about six decades more to develop some real sense of what is important to me so with kudos to Mr. Fulghum. I offer a credo here describing the ways I see life at this time. Most of these things I truly came to me in the last few years.
I fully acknowledge and hope this is likely to change often.
This is the happiest time of my life. There are fewer responsibilities, worries, distractions and difficulties which makes space for the considerable challenges of this time. This is also true of many of my friends. At sixty-nine I’m happier and more content than at any other age. This happiness is essentially a platform from which to dive deeper into the wonder of life.
It takes a village to do just about everything. With all due respect to Hilary Clinton’s book It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, and the African tribes who originally cultivated this wisdom it is not just about raising children. None of us does much of anything alone. We are all being lifted up by others throughout our lives. We all perpetually lean on others or if we are brave and they are strong we stand on their shoulders.
The true path in our lives is known only by looking behind us. We can make plans for where we want to go and what we want to achieve but the path always winds, twists, turns, bends and circles around. We achieve every goal that is honest and authentic. The goals not achieved were simply not part of the true path.
The less I know the more room there is for learning. The more I empty myself of opinions, ideas, biases and reactions the more room there is for what is new to flow into me. The more I let go of judgements, likes and dislikes and evaluations the more possibility there is for learning.
The most reliable thing in my life is the never ending quest for God. That quest is its own answer and reward. It was born into me. I arrived in this life time with it and expect to leave with it. Directly or just as often indirectly everything I’ve ever done has been in fulfillment of this quest.
Everything is alive. Rocks, stones, oceans, lakes, trees and places all are alive. They all have their own spirit and soul. God is present breathing the breath of life into it all.
If I am truly present I am having fun. It really doesn’t matter what I am doing, if I’m in the moment it is delightful. And if I’m not it isn’t. Wherever I am I want to be fully there. I am here to be here; nothing more, nothing less. The rest is window dressing.
I want to keep my heart open to the suffering in the world. Sometimes there is so much pain that I don’t think I can bare it. Other times, when I let my heart stay open and remain present I can lovingly enter the suffering. The only thing the world needs more of is love. I much prefer entering the suffering than running from it.
Owning stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Of all the material things I’ve ever owned my camera and my canoe were the only things that really mattered. The rest were either frivolous or simply utilitarian.
If I’m lucky I will get another fifteen healthy years. And I might get fifteen minutes. There is an urgency in every moment now. I actually hope I die before I forget who you are. If I stay with an open heart and remain present the quantity of remaining time does not matter but I want the fifteen years.
Worry is a waste of energy. 99% of the time spent worrying in my life was wasted. It has never stopped a problem from happening or made me better prepared. Worry is mostly a way to not be present right now.
So at this point in my life I wrap myself in these understandings. And perhaps in another ten years I’ll be lucky enough to write about the things I’ve learned since I turned seventy.