Saturday, January 21, 2012

Life Lessons, Small and Major

Earlier this week, at my creativity blog, I wrote this post about life lessons, so far, from January.  I tried to be both serious and humorous, while avoiding preachiness. 

I've had the idea of life lessons on my brain, in part because my new year started with the funeral of my grandmother.  Her life taught me many things:  the joys of a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, the many ways we have to recycle and re-use almost everything, the simple practices that can enrich our lives in ways we cannot articulate (morning devotion time, daily dessert, weekly church attendance, social time with family, service to community).

A few years ago, during a car trip back from our Thanksgiving family reunion at Lutheridge, my spouse asked my grandmother for her advice about what makes a great life.

She said, "You have to exercise every day.  You need to giggle every day.  And be grateful for what you have."

I was often in awe of my grandmother's wisdom, albeit, often in hindsight.  She would have scoffed at the idea that she was wise.  She didn't value the things that she knew how to do in the way that I valued them:  quilting, canning, growing food, sewing, I could go on and on.

But in her quiet living of her life, she bore powerful witness.  And I must say, the quote above sums up her philosophy quite nicely.

And it agrees with so much that researchers have "discovered."  We need to keep our spirits up, and laughter is a great way to do it.  We need to keep our perspective, and gratitude helps immensely.  Physical exercise, which need not be vigorous (my grandmother took a leisurely walk each evening), helps in more ways than we understand.

I will continue to record the wisdom of my elders so that later, when my memory falters, I'll have access.  I wish that my grandmother had been more of a writer.  She scoffed at that idea too.  Unfortunately, she subscribed to the notion that only some of us are important, and that an old woman living in a rural outpost couldn't be one of those people.

Luckily, she was surrounded by people who didn't agree.  And luckily for us, she was willing to talk.

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