"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge,
myth is more motent than history,
dreams are more powerful than facts,
hope always triumphs over experience,
laughter is the cure for grief
and love is stronger than death.
I get a weekly newsletter from motivational speaker and author Jon Gordon. He is all about how positive thinking can change your life. I've never participated in team sports, so I don't really know what locker room pep talks are all about. If I had to guess, though, I'd say Gordon's Monday missives are the stuff of what coaches say to get their teams pumped up and ready to win. Today's messageis about how experience can sometimes be a curse. Sometimes being naive or inexperienced can give one the courage to jump in with both feet, when experience might say, "beware of the alligators".
My dad has a habit of saying, "it's my habit." Both he and my mother lived their lives by a playbook made up of experiences that worked good enough to become habit. I'm sure there were some things they did over the years that didn't make it into the book, but we will never know what they are. I remember clear as it was yesterday the evening I looked at my unmade bed. The sheets were still in the dryer downstairs. I didn't much feel like getting them. Instead I said a silent prayer asking for forgiveness, then jumped in on top of the mattress pad and covered myself with the bedspread. Like the princess who could not sleep for the pea under the stack of mattresses, my mother would never have been able to rest in such a bed. Truth be told, if my husband had been there I wouldn't have been so daring, but I found I was able to sleep just fine. Being able to bounce a quarter off crisp clean sheets is nice but not mandatory for a good night's sleep.
This is probably a dumb example, yet the truth I grasped by that act of bed-making rebellion (at around 35 years of age) was that my mother's experience did not necessarily have to be my experience. I'm not the kind of person that steps out of the lines often, or likes to re-invent the proverbial wheel, but I know what it feels like to vary my actions. Sometimes a little change-up can be beneficial.
Conversely I can see how Dad's habits keep his days from getting completely out of hand. As long as he can do things at the same time, in the same way, his life must feel manageable - less out of control. It's got to be hard to realize the things you've always done for yourself, without even thinking about them, are suddenly challenging.
Just last night Sweetie and I discussed how Dad appears to be more and more confused. The nurse has suggested that cancer might have moved to his brain messing up some of his long-used mental pathways. And he's taking a fair amount of pain killers, so that's obviously dulling some of his senses. Maybe his 93 year old brain is just getting tired. Balancing a checkbook is both a blessing and a curse. Knowing his bottom line is as good a reason for living as any. But I wonder if his trying to do the math causes more confusion than it's worth.
Sweetie says after Dad has passed away we will be free to live our own adventure. I wonder, will I be wild and carefree or will I carry my tried 'n true experiences with me? Will our habits set the pace or will we stop and go with willy nilly abandon? Will we, as Gordon suggests of rookies, "create their good ole days right now"? Will we "live fearlessly and naïve enough to be successful?".
In a way it's like cleaning the attic that Pam talked about in her blog over the weekend. In the next part of my life, I don't want to be weighed down with the baggage I've been carrying. At the same time, I don't want to just toss the memories. Like old photographs on the walls at Cracker Barrel. How does one know what to keep and what to toss (or recycle as in the case of restaurant decorating)? I suspect my future, like sitting on a see-saw, is going to be full of learning how to balance the old with the new, experience with adventure, habit with throwing caution to the wind.
What works for you? Tried and true experience? Or creating new ways?