When my friend Angela recently asked me “What do you know for sure?” the Smart Ass in me joyfully began rattling off a stream of consciousness list that was easily observable, barely debatable and ultimately tossed out on the technicality that none were “for sure”.
“The sky is blue. The grass is green,” I gleefully offered. But then, with a grimace of realization, Smart Ass added, “And neither of those are always true.”
As I searched for tidbits of wisdom I was certain I had accumulated through a few decades of living well, I found little of import to share. The few items that did surface didn’t fit the criteria of being “for sure” either.
So that’s the first thing on my list: I know for sure there are few things that I know for sure. Those decades well-lived have indeed taught me that everything can, and likely will, change. Even what we believe, or know, or think we know will change with new information, with growth, with living. We change, it’s part of the human experience, and so everything around us changes, or appears to as it reflects our own evolution.
But the question, “What do I know for sure?” has stuck with me. Maybe it is an indication of age calling me to keep unearthing possible answers, to stake my claim on what I know. I will attempt to do so, however, in the interest of the above comment regarding change, as always, I reserve the right to move my stake.
First of all, I know that we all want similar things. Except for a few…well, misdirected or highly damaged assholes…we all want to love and be loved, to be happy and to feel safe. And we like to give attention to, as well as to receive attention from, the people we love. We like to feel heard. To be seen. To be known. I think that’s a “for sure”.
Another “for sure” is that it’s impossible to love someone else if you haven’t learned to love yourself. That sounds trite these days. We hear a lot about self-love, but that’s because it’s that important. We honestly cannot love another if we don’t first love ourselves. Love and forgive yourself. NOW. And then keep doing it. It’ll make a difference. That’s for sure.
Animals are good models for how to live without guilt, shame or a lack of forgiveness for self or others. My animals are completely comfortable asking for, often demanding, what they want and then assuming whatever they get is what they need. And an animal can help fill a void left by people who promise us love, but slip away before we can remind them of it. People are rarely able to fill the void left by a beloved animal. And that says all I know for sure about both people and animals.
Since this list stems from years of living, I openly admit that these days my “feels like” age fluctuates between my Forties to Dead. On good days I can still lean down to pick up the keys I dropped without feeling as though I’m causing internal bleeding. On other days, dropping my keys means I apparently didn’t really need them.
Also in that same “looking in the mirror and saying ‘how did this happen?’” category, I know for sure that our bodies hang on to past grievances, hurts and ignores from our youth in order to exact paybacks later in life. Everything we didn’t take care of when we were young, everything we did that we shouldn’t have, and every abuse we entertained will come back to haunt us. That little toe you rearranged your bed with after a long night out in your twenties? It has lain dormant all these years waiting to get revenge. Which it will do some day when you’re going on an innocent walk and step down on a rock or stick. You’ll feel it and the memory of that night will come rushing back and linger for several days along with a distinct limp. Every bruise, sprain, broken or worn part will show up at some point. It might be when you first stand in the morning, rise from a sitting position or wearily eye a long staircase. Our body never forgets. I wish someone had told me that while I was young. Although it’s possible someone tried, but I had the music turned up too loud to hear them.
Hearing is an ironic twist to what I know for sure in that just when we have the time to listen to our loved ones telling us of their dreams or demons, we can’t hear a word they say. Which sometimes isn’t a bad thing, since we also can’t always remember their names.
Another item on my rather short list of “What I Know for Sure” is I believe miracles happen and magic exists. I do. I’ve benefited from and witnessed both. I have no doubt magic and miracles are all around us. The key is to keep our eyes and hearts open – open to possibility, to connection, to dreams and dreaming.
Trying to answer my friend’s question, “What do you know for sure?” has led me to the realization that really the only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know anything – for sure.
And maybe that’s not only okay, but also perfect.