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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Table Conversations

© Another Day in the Country

We were sitting around the table and my daughter Jana said, “What Life Wisdom do you have to share?”

You’ve got to be kidding. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of conversation. I was expecting someone to ask things like, “Are there more pancakes?” or “Would you please pass the butter?”

Finally, I said, “These are questions that take some thought. Obviously, you’ve thought about it, so what would you say?”

“Number One: Get through adolescence without a criminal record, a child, or an addiction. This is a major accomplishment,” she said. “Actually,” she went on, “I gave this advice to Kai, remember him? He used to work for me.” (Jana is a fencing coach and employs some of her older students when they get proficient at fencing as junior coaches in her classes.)

Several years later, when he turned 21, Kai came to her and said, “Do you remember when I first started working for you when I turned 15, and I asked you for some advice and you gave me a list of three things to accomplish? Well, I want you to know I did it!”

After that grand beginning on our Life Wisdom List, I said “We’d better write this down,” as I scrambled in the junk drawer for a pencil. As we sat longer at the breakfast table, and the conversation bounced from one person to another, I wrote out this list:

  • Get through adolescence without a criminal record, a child, or an addiction.
  • Learn to swim (and wear sunscreen).
  • The sooner you realize that you aren’t “in control” the happier you’ll be. The only control you have is “choice.”
  • Learn to say “No.”
  • Remember that each mistake is an opportunity to learn, change, choose.
  • Take great care of your teeth. Floss!
  • It is healthy to question: church, government, authority. Be wary of those who think you shouldn’t.
  • Everything in moderation. Learn what it means to be balanced.
  • Remember that each day of your life is like money in your wallet: spend it well.
  • Find a way to earn money that pleases you.
  • If you choose to believe in God, know that God manifests in you.
  • Be honest and truthful, to yourself and others.
  • Dream, dream, dream.
  • Stay away from alcohol, tobacco, drugs — anything that clouds your mind or judgement. For that matter don’t drink soda or use artificial sweeteners, either.
  • Clean up after yourself! It makes you nicer to live with…
  • Marry more for friendship than romance and don’t look to someone else to complete you — complete yourself.
  • Become a parent and do it thoughtfully — creating life is a miracle with a huge responsibility attached, it’s not something you do for kicks…
  • Seek happiness and when you find it, treasure it! Practice seeing the cup half full!
  • Whatever you own, take good care of it. First your body, then your clothes, your car, etc.
  • Develop a “work ethic.” Learn to enjoy working, accomplishing, completing.
  • Know yourself! Learn to trust yourself. Not to worry, when you need to act, you will.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Be a good friend! Choose your friends wisely, they are often for life!
  • Laugh a lot, even at yourself. Cultivate a sense of humor.
  • Value, protect, enjoy, learn about, and love nature.
  • Always be a learner, a seeker, a lover, a singer of songs, a writer of words, a kind touch.
  • Create something and share it: Food, an object, an idea, a toy, a garden, a joke, money, an event, a story.
  • Eat a healthy diet — try new foods. You are what you eat! Food is fuel for your body. Take care of it like you would an expensive car.
  • Ask questions.
  • ….

Of course, we know that lists are only as valid as our example to a younger generation. However, just in case they ask, or I get a chance to share, our list keeps growing. The other day I went hunting for that piece of paper to add something I’d thought of, and then I decided to store the list on my computer so I could print it out and send a copy to my extended family — it’s another day in the country and they may have something to add.

Last modified Feb. 26, 2015

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