Things I Know After 50-Something Years of Life

“The more I know, the less I understand.

All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again.”

Don Henley, J. D. Souther

These are lines from former Eagle Don Henley’s The Heart of the Matter, my favorite of his songs. Its words of lost love, betrayal and forgiveness resonate with me on so many levels, but these particular lyrics really speak to me. The older I get, the more I realize: I really don’t know life at all (Joni Mitchell).

Still, I’ve learned a thing or two since I entered the world in the comparatively innocent early 60s. Here are a few of them:

Some dogs will eat your homework.

Silence really is golden.

People are capable of acts of stunning beauty and shocking cruelty.

Good fathers are one of God’s most special gifts. Thank you for mine, God.

There’s never enough loose change in the sofa cushions to buy anything.

Novels are best devoured when you’re supposed to be doing something else. Sleeping, for example.

Broken cookies still contain calories. Sorry, Grandma.

Just because the traffic light is green, it doesn’t mean you can go.

More than anyone else, your children are experts at pushing your buttons.

The washing machine will only eat your favorite sweater, never that ratty t-shirt. Ditto the dishwasher. If something is going to break in there, it’ll be your nice glassware, not those jelly jars you’ve been drinking from since 1974.

Looking at my children’s sleeping faces will always squeeze my heart. Even when they’re almost 30 and napping on the sofa.

Everything happens in threes. Except when they happen in fours. Or not at all – which is exactly the frequency of most of the things I worry about.


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