Experience is the Lesson


Authored by Odie Pahl in Family 
Published on 10-09-2009

Being a woman of a particular age, I remember most of what I have done in my life much of the time. This is not to say, my experiences have all worked out well or have I learned everything I should have from them. Yet, I have carried on relatively unscathed from the close calls, bad judgments, or those flights of fancy that took over my normally good sense. I have survived and the experiences of those events have allowed me to grow. Yes, I must acknowledge I am better for those adventures. The choices I made, the decisions done without any examination of the future consequences or the reckless behavior spear-headed by the need to belong within my peer group has made me the person I am today. Thank goodness I endured.

Having said that, I am also damn lucky I made it this far. Sometimes I am absolutely sure that my guardian angel has been on overtime duty during my lifetime on this planet. What should I do with this immense accumulation of experience now that I am an older and wiser woman of many decades? How can I share these pieces of wisdom with the young and naïve next generation who are waiting in the wings to do their part to advance humanity? Probably nothing I am afraid.

My children have told me they are not interested. My husband does not buy my conversion to being a wise sage and frankly no one else really sees me as being the kind of person who knows what the world is all about. Oh, I might appear to be intelligent enough and probably to some degree a reliable person, but I am not Yoda material. My take on this is like the old saying; still waters run deep. Let me tell you I am very, very deep- possibly ocean floor deep.

I could wax poetic on the subject of leaving home at 18 years old with no money or plan, juggling bills on a budget that far exceeded an income, or how to continue an education that has more stops than the local city bus, but why push it? Most people may be entertained, but few would look at those stories and use my examples to avoid trouble or solve their problems, which is probably true across the board.

I was watching Oprah recently and James Taylor was performing some of the audience’s favorite songs. Writing these songs over forty years ago, Taylor is a different man in 2009 and you could tell it in his phrasing. Fire and Rain hit me different too. The young girl who heard those words related to the love of the singer (Taylor) had for Susan (lover or friend) who was clearly sent away from him and not the emotion behind it. “Susan the plans they made put an end to you” could relate to being sent to drug rehab, a mental institution, or suicide. I’m not sure I ever knew for sure what experience he was trying to convey.

Although to some extent his words said more – I related to the fire and rain as the trials and tribulations of a world so different than my parents. Hearing him sing on that Friday morning I related to his experiences as the joy and pain of living. Knowing that the lyrics “sunny days that I thought would never end” was my life with my daughters when they were little or losing someone dear to me, because they never felt they belonged to this world. Each phrase of that old song had new meaning for the wizened person I have become.

Oprah asked him what is was like to sing those lyrics today when he was so much older and experienced. The gist of his comments went like this; he was happy to still be singing, he conquered his addictions, he had the love of his family, and satisfaction in the journey despite the detours. I feel the same. No one said that life was easy, but it is a great feeling to complete the trip intact. Listening to the advice of experts who have traveled the same path is not what we do. We have to live it for ourselves. The experience remains the lesson which we learn from.


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