I know all the trees when I go to Utah. I know their names, why they live where they do, how much water they need, and what animals like to live in them best. I am trained as a plant ecologist. I went to graduate school for it.
But, when I go to a party, or a 7th grade classroom full of boys, or a conference room full of colleagues, I don’t know much at all! I am 45 years old, and still a student of life, trying to learn how to get along, to love despite hurts, to have compassion instead of anger, to reach out instead of push away.
I don’t even live in Utah. I live in Colorado, with people surrounding me every day. How is it that we can spend so much time together, and not understand each other? How can I know so little about myself as well?
When I was 8, I sat on the creek bank with my friend Nini, braiding violets into chains, thinking about what it would be like when I would be 17, and know everything about the world, boys, and my life.
When I was 17, I was dating Brad, and planning my wedding to him and the children we would have together (4 before I was 26!). We were never married though, and at 26 I felt far too young to have children. I couldn’t even figure out how to make a living. I was still in school and looked forward to 35 when my job would be secure and my home would be cute and decorated with Laura Ashley curtains. My husband and I would vacation in Europe.
When I was 35, I was a divorced single mom with 2 babies trying to figure out who God was and wondering if I would ever sleep an entire night again. I didn’t know how to pay bills and raise kids at the same time. I focused on figuring out a way to make it to the next nap time. I couldn’t wait until I was just a little older and could figure out how to balance it all. And, I would understand God for sure by the time I was 45…
Now I am 45. I sit with my daughter picking violets, wondering when I will understand boys (my son as well as men in general). I wonder again about God, naps, friends, marriage, vacations, and careers. I don’t think I will know it all when I am 55, or 65, or 75. But I could learn all the trees in Nevada!