Articles > Meditations and Musings > If only I knew when I was younger, what I know now...

If only I knew when I was younger, what I know now...

Published by 4Hope on 2000/1/1 (6680 reads)
If only I knew when I was younger, what I know now...

Autumn. Fall. The change of the seasons. That spectacular period of arboreal fireworks in red, orange, and amber. That gloriously quiet transition between the rush of summer planning and the crush of winter's holidays. That time between sand shovels and snow shovels. A time to reflect.

So, October seems the perfect time to inaugurate our monthly "Reflections" page. We will offer reflections on the aging process, experiences relating to the elderly, and the challenges and joys of caregiving. Like a restful retreat, we hope it will be nourishment for the soul.

One of my father's favorite sayings of many years ago was, "If only I knew when I was younger, what I know now." He never expounded on those words but the glimmer in his eyes spoke volumes. Even as a child, I sensed the significance of that observation. Now, as an aging adult, I recognize the wisdom in his words, yet believe there must be more hope to his admonition. I believe we are almost always young enough to employ what we learn--or at least absorb it into our present moment! The key to unlocking any door to change is to recognize that we want or need change. This is the stuff hope is made of.

Sadly, though, too many of us wait until our deathbeds to experience a life review and feel the pangs of unrealized dreams and unfulfilled years. In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the miserly Scrooge is led through an "upfront and personal" life review followed by a sneak preview of his death. The now enlightened Scrooge asks the Angel why he is shown these wasted years if there is no hope for change. He immediately begins plans to rectify his past.

In our seminar on writing one's life story, "The Time of Your Life," we encourage our participants to reflect, not only on the story of their life to date, but also on those chapters yet to be written. What do you want to transcribe on the future pages of your life story? What things would you regret not experiencing in this lifetime? Knowing what you know now, how can you make today and the days to come meaningful expressions of your life's lessons?

The following excerpt from the book, If I had my life to live over I would pick more daisies, edited by Sandra Haldeman Martz, was attributed to Nadine Stair who was eighty-five years young when the book was published. Perhaps as you contemplate your hopes for the future, you may enjoy considering Ms. Stair's reflections…

"I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies."

Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Papier-Mache Press. The publisher has not been able to locate Nadine Stair's relatives.

This article was published in October of 1999. Since that time, we have received word that the writing that we have cited here, reportedly by Nadine Stair may or may not have been written by said Nadine Stair. Our citation noted here is correct, inasfar as we are able to ascertain. For more about the issues surrounding the mysterious Ms. Stair and other reported authors, please visit the following links:

Tags: meaning   life   aging   reminiscence   lessons   youth  

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