Simple Truths in a Lifetime Learning

When I was a kid, we did not have indoor plumbing. My Sister tells me we could have had a house with indoor plumbing but our Dad chose rustic over more modern. Even though we lived in a rural area I was the only Kid I knew of in school who used an outhouse and water was delivered by a hand pump.

It was kind of hard to know much about life back then. After all I only saw bits and pieces of life, and I thought that was about all there was to the world. The Adults worked, ate, slept, drank, danced and went to parties on the weekend, and did it all over again. I only knew a few families that had a lifestyle higher than the rest. Most of the families were at about the same level.

Kids were abused by their parents. Many were beaten more than they should have been. A few thrown through walls, or across rooms. Most of us would never interrupt an adult conversation or venture an opinion. Doing so was risking a slap or a spanking. Children were to be seen and not heard, unless it came to fetching another beer, or making a mixed (whiskey and water or some such) drink.

Eventually I grew up as we all do. I saw some of the world, and it really did not make a big impact on me. The world looked different but my place in it had not changed. One day I woke and I made some changes. I did not know at the time what those changes would be, but I knew I did not want to go on living as I was. It was boring. Work all week and have little to show for it.

Something changed over the years. Maybe it did for everyone, I am not sure. I stopped doing those things which were not adding positively to my life. I tried other things I thought would benefit me. Some worked and some did not. Change happened so slowly I barely noticed there was change.

I was a boat without a rudder sailing on the ocean without a map. Was having fun more important than looking towards the future? Was it worth saving a few dollars a week hoping it would grow into an amount worth noting? Was pizza and beer really good, or was it really bad for my health. I had seen a few people die from smoking cigarettes. I had know some addicts who were in their last days. These things helped me decide where I was today, wherever that was, was better than where I could have been.

I thought I had skills that would carry me through my work life. I learned them in the military. Trading my innate aggression for other more subtle skills that would help me carve out the ‘Good Life’. Those skills were old within a decade, and today are ancient in the world of technology. But I am far ahead of where I could have been.

When I look around I see the ancient skills are still in demand. Those skills we used over thousands of years, and refine every decade. Cooking, Baking, Creating never go out of fashion. The way we do it changes, but not the fact that we need people who can do these things with foresight and clarity of vision. A good dinner tastes as good or better than it always has. A fine piece of furniture, or a well put together building is still something to respect and perhaps hold in awe. Some things can not be improved upon.

Two things I learned over the years that will never change. The first learning is you do not need to know where you want to end up, you only need to know where you do not want to end up farther down the road. The second learning is, great things, whether they are the best pizza I have ever tasted, the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, or the finest piece of music ever heard, did not get that way overnight.

If it is worth having, someone put in a lot of pain and sweat to produce it. The fruit of their labor may be ubiquitous now, but before it arrived, a lot of failures happened along the way. The greatest learning perhaps is do not be afraid of failure. Failure is part of the pavement of the road to success.

Self measured success may small in stature, but large in the distance covered. The reason success is large in the distance covered is because success is generally measured using one scale of  measure. To truly judge success everything should be evaluated equally.

A great meal is not made with one item, a beautiful sculpture was not made with one chisel, and captivating melodies were not written in a day. The real measurement of success is a blend of all ingredients brought together in one place, and compared to their independent original raw state. Only then can success be determined.