These are the things I’ve learned in the past few years. Some I wish I could have learned later.

People who hurt people don’t usually do it on purpose. Even when people love others, their fear and insecurity closes in on them like a wild animal hemmed in by adversaries. They strike out. The closest are wounded. These people are mistaken. It is important to remember, for me anyway, that compassion can be detrimental. Or, maybe not, but it must be tempered with uprightness. Angry people are dangerous. It is important to get away from them.

I don’t believe that I’ve learned necessarily more important lessons this way. There isn’t anything better about learning the hard lessons in life.Why is it implied that it’s somehow less real to live a happy life? To be unacquainted with sorrow is unlikely, admittedly. But healthy sorrow is different from despair, grief at feeling hated. Sometimes tears taste different. The tears from Mom’s funeral were honest. (That’s how I think of them. It doesn’t mean that I think these tears aren’t. It just means that it’s something pinpoint-able.) Tears from these current troubles are despairing, exhausted, diluted.

As far as I can tell, a good life is about being happy. Doing things that are pleasant. Being with generous people, kind people, beautiful people. It’s a bit hard to write that because critics might say that that’s shallow. Which brings me to my  third point:

Who cares what the mean people think.

Fourth. Because you can tolerate much misery, it doesn’t mean you should.

Fifth. Romantic love is as perplexing to me as the fourth planet from the sun. But I want to understand.

No one, except prisoners, are truly ever stuck. And some prisons offer yoga, so not even those.

This one lesson has really hit home lately: my possessions, such as they are, are worth nothing to me in comparison with happiness. I would trade it all for an extra day with Annie. I would, will leave it all behind to stay with Annie and to live in a shack with love. What do they say? Better a dinner of herbs where love is than a feast of meat in an angry house?

I want to be happy. The only way I know to do that is to be around happy people, good people, and to help people myself. More than ever I’ve learned to accept everything about people. I don’t even think that anything about people is wrong, unless it is deliberately intended to hurt another. That behavior, thank heaven, seems scarce. Pain is avoidable. I hope.

One Comment

  • Bea Keller wrote:

    Hi Sarah,
    It does my heart good to see you are blogging anew. My comments may be best served by bulleting, so here goes.
    • Don’t ignore anger. I want to recommend 2 books by Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger & The Dance of Intimacy. The first paragraph in TDOA goes as follows. “Anger is a signal, and one worth listening to. Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated, that our needs or wants are not being adequately met, or simply that something is not right. Our anger may tell us that we are not addressing an important emotional issue in our lives, or that too much of our self—our beliefs, values, desires, or ambitions—is being compromised in a relationship. Our anger may be a signal that we are doing more and giving more than we can comfortably do or give. Or our anger may warn us that others are doing too much for us, at the expense of our own competence and growth. Just as physical pain tells us to take our hand off the hot stove, the pain of our anger preserves the very integrity of our self. Our anger can motivate us to say ‘no’ to the ways in which we are defined by others and ‘yes’ to the dictates of our inner self.”
    • Life can be mysterious and wonderful every day, but it requires adjusting one’s perspective. Things happen: an ugly encounter with an angry person, a severe loss, a health issue, things beyond our control. How human beings wend their way through the difficulties of life varies. We are often hampered by old tapes in our head that play and replay from childhood on. And some people have better tapes than others. Nature or nurture? I suspect both.
    • Romantic love has ebbs and flows. The tides of passion are interspersed with tides of affection, anger, indifference. The latter two are a signal & need attention and intervention. The number one indicator of a successful and long relationship is kindness and respect in gestures, jokes, repartee. Asked the secret to a long marriage, a woman married 50 plus years answered, “Don’t take anything personally.” I think this is very sound advice. Very difficult to get around, but sound.
    • Compassion is key in relationships and life. But there are limits. If one is always the giver, forced to sacrifice and acquiesces continually, it can erode one’s spirit. “The Good Woman of Szechwan” by Berthold Brecht explores the yin & yang of “goodness”. Shen Te, a woman committed to being a “good person” is abused by her customers who tread on her, never pay their debts and expect her kindness. She is forced from time to time (in order to survive) to become Shui Ta, her mean uncle who demands payment and respect. We women must sometimes work on our Shui Ta.
    • Happiness is a noble goal.

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