Learning about Life
by Jennifer Bloom
The older gentleman sitting next to me
asked if I was a writer.
I told him that it's one of many things I do.
"And you," I asked.
"Oh me?" he replied,
"I am learning about life."
I celebrated my birthday this week. I turned 48, which to some might seem young and to others might seem old. To me, four dozen years feels like a sort of sweet spot, a wholeness, a completion, and a new beginning.
My daughter, coincidentally, is one dozen years old, one-fourth as many spins around the sun. When I drove her to school on my birthday, she asked how it feels to be 48. I told her I was feeling good, and that the more I learn about life, the more I realize I don’t know very much about life at all.
“That sounds really wise,” she said.
“I didn’t make it up,” I responded. “There’s a saying—the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
Friday night, I ended up with a quiet evening with myself. I pulled out my 2022 wisdom journal. This is the journal where I record the major intentions, ideas, memories, and inspiration that I want to highlight and preserve. I remembered that when I was a teenager, I used to write out favorite quotes and song lyrics onto index cards and tape them to my wall. I thought it might be fun to create a little treasure hunt for myself by going through the journal, looking for nuggets of learning and wisdom, and writing each phrase on a separate sticky note. I thought I’d end up with fifteen or twenty gems. Instead, when I finished and laid the sticky notes on my dining table, I counted 52!
I’m sharing a few of my 52 learnings about life from 2022. There’s a story behind each sentence or phrase, an embodied experience, feeling, or conversation that generated each learning. Maybe some day I'll share these stories as poems or other writing. For now, I invite you to notice what sense you make of them, what they evoke for you.
Grief and joy are two opposing forces that create space for the other to exist.
There is a harmony that arises when I let go of expectations of who I want someone else to be and let them be who they are.
Changing my mind can be a strength rather than a weakness.
Sometimes crying is the prayer.
The point of life is to live it.
I spent my first 24 years learning about life in classrooms and my second 24 learning about life through living it. My encounter with the man in the poem above felt like an invitation into embracing everyone and everything I encounter as my teachers and all of life as my school yard.
Wishing you a week of curiosity and insight. And if you have something you're learning about life that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it!
ps - Last year, I celebrated my birthday by planting trees through an organization called One Tree Planted. I decided to continue the fundraiser this year by planting 48 more trees. If you feel inspired by the idea, you can use this link to make a contribution. Each dollar plants one tree.