Readers Talk About Lessons Life Has Taught Them

A month ago, I invited readers to write about the lessons life has taught them. Of the many email replies I received—lots of which were from people in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s—I will reprint as many as I can. Today, I will record the readers talking about overcoming obstacles. In a future column, I will give space to the readers who emphasize the importance of their relationships, of doing the right thing and who focus on the joy of being alive.

Regarding overcoming obstacles, one reader wrote: When my wife and I married in 1946, we could not find an apartment in Iowa City, so we stayed with a lady who cleared out a corner of her basement. We did not own a car until I graduated. The lessons from this experience were: sacrifice now to help insure your future, think positive and remain determined.

A reader from New Zealand wrote: We are not defined by our past: don’t let yesterday spoil tomorrow. Also, “If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.” And: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.”

A woman from Longmont, Colorado, wrote: My biggest life lesson was that I could not purchase happiness for my ex-husband, even with the “sale” of my own soul. Another woman says: Keep putting one foot in front of the other. We do not know what is around the next  bend.

One man from New Zealand writes about “playing the cards you are dealt.” Another reader from New Zealand relayed this story: My eldest child went through a transgender transition from a female to a male. My struggle to understand and learn has been huge, but through it all I began to realize the difference between agreement and acceptance. I love my child and accept his identity as a male, even if I don’t agree.

Another woman writes: Ending a relationship that isn’t working is like putting on your pajamas after a long day in heels and pantyhose. A man from Denver says: “Every perceived bad thing that has happened to me has a greater gift attached, if I stay teachable.”

Another reader tells this story: I left a very small town in the East to follow my then-husband to the West. I loved the outdoors, loved climbing and skiing. At my high school reunion, I spoke with classmates who had stayed in our small town, and I felt jealous of the connections they had with the same people through the decades. It seems that every path we choose means that some other path must be abandoned. You miss out on one kind of experience, but you get to experience another kind. It forced me to focus on the wonderful things I have, and abandon the wasteful energy of looking at what I did not have.

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