Like most people, I want to start the new year with a little more knowledge and hopefully a little more wisdom than the previous year. To recognize either, however, it is important to reflect on the year that came before. I learned a few lessons from 2017 that I hope will help me handle the events of 2018 with a bit more understanding, courage, and grace. I am relating these lessons in no particular order.
- The storms of life are often unexpected and devastating but necessary. They bring us together and offer opportunities for working together, inspiring hope, giving freely and joyfully, and expressing genuine concern for those less fortunate.
- We should put more faith in God and people than Hollywood and government.
- When we are assaulted in any way, we must stand up to the offender and let it be known that we don’t tolerate rude or unseemly behavior. We must also report such behavior immediately for the sake of everyone. Imagine what the world would be if everyone treated each other the way they want the person they love most in the world treated.
- Hurricanes and snow storms can happen in South Texas within four months of each other. We should delight in the wonder of that.
- We need more snow days. They give us a reason to do nothing except play, snuggle, drink hot chocolate, and marvel in how beautiful everything is when blanketed in snow. Even the neighbor’s old shed makes for a great snow photo.
- We should listen more, especially to those who struggle to find their voice. Our forefathers understood this and gave us freedom of the press to help do that. That said, we should not allow anyone to be tried in the press. We are a nation that believes in due process. To ignore “innocent until proven guilty” hurts us all.
- We should carry a trash bag on our walks and tidy up our paths. This is good for the environment – and our waistlines.
- We should be quick to help and slow to criticize. Our opinions aren’t worth much, but our hands and feet are like gold.
- We must admit it when we are wrong and forgive those who point it out. Most of us benefit from a bit of humbling now and again.
- Investing in people pays higher dividends than investing in Bitcoins. Mentor a child who may not have a responsible adult in his life to teach him about right living. Both of you will change for the better.
- Find a way for kids to spend time with farm animals. It teaches them respect and a healthy fear of the big ones and allows them to see how even the smallest one has a purpose.
- Patience is still a virtue. Sometimes waiting for what we need or want saves us time and trouble and unnecessary expense.
- We should preserve the history of the common people and share it with our children by telling them or writing it down. It is our past, after all, that defines the direction we take in the future.
- We must put names, places, and dates on pictures and writings so that “Who’s that?” and “Where are they?” and “When was this?” can be answered.
- We should spend more time with four-year-old kids. They have the courage to hold a snake and sing and dance in public. We should nurture this in them – and in ourselves.
- We learn what our loved ones cherished by the paper treasures in their attics. Print newspapers and magazines allow us to leave a trail of what we value for those who may one day dig through our old shoe boxes stored in the closet in search of who we really are.
I am certain that everyone who reads this list could easily add to it. So, print it, attach it to a piece of paper where you list your own life lessons from 2017, tuck it into a box or between the pages of a book, and give your children and grandchildren something to think and talk about after you’re gone. They’ll be glad you did. May each of you have a happy and blessed New Year, and may your resolutions turn into actions that make you a better person.
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.