The great thing about life is if you open your mind and are willing to learn you can continue growing forever. Far too often people believe once you reach a certain age that is it, you have learned pretty much all you needed to know and experienced pretty much all there is to experience.
Sometimes you end up learning what you can and cannot do, for better and for worse. Some call it being stuck in your ways, but that usually has a negative tone to it because it implies stubbornness and the unwillingness to compromise.
Then again, the willingness to compromise or to let things go can be something we should all learn to sometimes not do. I use to be the kind of person who could let someone who is completely in the wrong go. In my mind I did not want a confrontation or I felt that because they were wrong sooner or later they would discover this fact and change or be disregarded because they would not change.
But now I find myself unable to let things go. I learned I cannot just stand by and watch someone spout lies, be racist, sexist or homophobic. It is not that I have learned to revel in confrontation, but that I realized that today there are far too many havens for these people, too many like-minded people who can gather together and believe that they have a real place in society.
I learned I cannot bite my tongue when I hear something that is completely false or twisted from the truth to try and fit into someone’s weak argument. I find myself asking people why they are specifically challenging a point or rallying against a cause. I do not just accept that they are against something, I want to know why they are against it. I want to learn the thinking behind it, the reasoning the justification.
I learned I cannot accept ignorance, willful or otherwise. I want to know why someone avoids knowledge, avoids the truth that can easily be accessed. I have to ask why someone would sabotage their own daily life because of a belief. How can we ever find answers when we will not ask the right questions or even worse, remain silent and ask nothing at all?
I learned it is not enough to just speak out on my own. I have to find other’s who feel the same way and then together go out and try to change things. It is not just about words it is about actions, but both have to work together because many need to hear the word go before they can go.
I learned I had to pick a side. I thought it was possible to stay in the middle and pull what I believed was the best from both sides, but there must be definition, there must be a line and it must be clear. It may be harsh, but those who stand on the other side are on the wrong side and through I will do everything I can to bring them over, I will not hesitate to tell them they are wrong.
I learned you fight every day, not only for what you want for yourself, but for what you want for the world. The fight never ends and you continue fighting until you die, that is life. The journey is the fight and it is hard and long, but if you are fighting for the right reasons then at every day’s end you know it was a job well done, a day well spent and you are ready to continue.
I learned you cannot love anyone else until you love yourself. Strength comes from within and only once you help yourself can you help others. The person in the mirror is the person the world sees and if you are not happy with what you see then no one else will be.
I learned emotions and rational thought can coexist. You can have passion with purpose and remain open while sticking to your beliefs. If you never open your mind you cannot receive the gift of knowledge and if you never open your heart you can never receive the gift of love. Both are needed to sustain life, it is the fuel that drives us and we need a constant full tank to continue moving forward towards our goals.
I learned all things end, but there is no expiration date on the effect you can have on others. What you do passes on from person to person, generation to generation. I learned I do not want to be mediocre. Excellent incarnate means giving your best everyday and remembering you only get one shot at this so make it the best you can.
I learned a lot of things, but most important, I learned that I have much more to learn.