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  • Writer's pictureErin Snedeker

28 Lessons

On the eve of my 29th birthday, I reflect on 28 lessons I have learned in my 28 years.

1. Travel

I have found myself on cold white cliffsides and in stony cathedrals.

I have discovered who I am bathed in many colored light and along busy street corners.

My life is a quilt stitched together with the thread of experience.

Blue hues of the ocean and earthy browns and reds of the mountains.

The gold and silver ornate embroidery of ancient artwork and

The hushed reverence of museums.

Travel often.

It is necessary.

2. Music.

If my blood had a sound it would come out in song.

Thrumming and playful, slow and lyrical.

Here: Hear.

Life-blood: life-song.

These are the same.

Music adds color to the gray-scape of memory,

Flavor to the feast

3. Forgiveness.

Apologies are meant to address, allay, balm, calm the feelings of another.

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself.

Apologies may come that your never expect to receive.

Apologies may never come that you wait for day after day.

And some may come years after you let go of hope

Forgive anyway.

4. Patience.

Waiting for something and

patiently working toward something

are two separate things.

One will create worry and frustration,

the other will give you what you want.

Know the difference between them.

Patience is a two-faced coin.

5. Art.

There is untempered joy in the act of creating.

Whether it is a poem, a blanket, a story, or painting,

A song, an image or something you’re baking.

Here you’ve found art. An expression of you.

Pro or amateur, you must do what you do

To tell your most honest, incredible truth.

6. Language.

I know no difference between thoughts and words.

Language and meaning to me are the same.

What an awe-some responsibility it is

To wield the bricks of understanding.

7. Love.

A feeling, an action, a state of being.

I have experiences as many kinds of love as there are flavors of ice cream.

Each is sweet in its own unique way.

I have never felt the same love twice.

And that is what makes love a miracle of miracles.

8. Wilderness.

Every now and then, walk barefoot in the grass

Climb trees and feel sand in your fingers.

A sleeping beast lives in each of us,

As old as adventures and history

That yearns to call the wilderness home.

9. Family.

The first and most important lessons I ever learned were

how to be a part of a family,

and what it meant to be a part of a family.

There is no distance, no disagreement,

No obstacle that can break these bonds.

10. Rain.

Rain will come no matter what.

So always have your rainboots and umbrella nearby.

And if rain comes to someone you love,

Share a dance in the storm.

11. Friends.

Joy uncontrolled. Laughter and late nights.

Halloween parties, birthdays, grief, and fights.

Make-ups, and break-ups, moving, new lives,

Reunions, and weddings, times you feel most alive.

Movie nights, long flights, and board games,

With this family you are never ashamed.

Yes, family they are, not bound by blood

But by a special, unique-to-you kind of love.

12. Work.

There are lessons only work can teach you.

Perseverance. Resolve. Discipline.

You may work in dull places

Doing things that don’t make your heart sing,

And you learn how to do them anyway.

13. Feelings.

Whatever feelings pass through you are okay. They are natural.

However intensely you feel something is just the right amount for you.

Sometimes it will feel overwhelming.

Other times you might wonder why you don’t feel more.

Bright brights and dark darks.

Experience them and let them go.

14. Kindness.

How others treat you reflects their inner workings.

Like Grandfather clocks, peel back the surface of their actions

And watch them tick tick tick.

It is not a reflection of who you are.

And likewise, your treatment of others does not reflect who they are.

Know which way the mirror points.

15. Light.

Delight. Happiness. Laughter.

These are the things we work for

We look for, we wish for

But we cannot have light

Only light, forever

That is the way it is supposed to be

16. Dark.

Even on the darkest nights, the

Moon is always there. Even when

We can’t see the glowing, ghostly orb,

The ocean dances to its song.

17. Action.

Thinking makes no impact if not accompanied by an action.

You may have the most brilliant ideas,

But unless those ideas are shared through action

They will end up in the back of the closet,

Under the bed with the dust bunnies

18. Worry.

Worry is a heavy companion that climbs up your back and

whispers in your ear. He says awful things

you don’t want to believe. And sometimes you forget—

Worry is meant to help and not hurt.

Listen, and discern what he’s trying to say.

But don’t invite him in, or he’s likely to stay.

19. Time.

Time will move at its own pace.

Some days will drag, and others will be over in a blink.

Fighting the progression of time is as useful as trying to hold the sun in the sky.

These are forces much larger than you,

and in the end, you will only look like a fool.

20. Food.

What a wonderful gift is food.

What delight of appetite.

Food tells a story of

Cook and culture

I have eaten and eaten well

At home and abroad

And the food and experiences

Fill me up

21. Yoga.

I have met very few problems

That could not be helped

By feeling the mat beneath my feet

Feeling the stretch of muscle

And the deepening breath in my chest

22. Tennis.

Everyone should have something that they do

Without concern for mastery.

The pop and zing of the tennis ball

Rocketing across the court. Returned.

Struck again. Returned.

Summer evenings spent between father and daughter.

23. Pain.

I have never been stabbed in the chest

But I have felt a grief that ripped heart from spirit.

Never broken a bone, but I have felt the

Throbbing ache of betrayal realized.

There are lessons in pain that can only be learned

After it is gone.

But sometimes, there are no lessons at all

Only confusion.

24. Boyfriend.

A choice. In every day. To choose each other.

There is no fruit sweeter than that.

I choose you

Over and over.

And you choose me

Over and over.

25. Wisdom.

The older I get, the more I think that Wisdom

Is a myth. People find poignancy when they are ready.

Wisdom can only be found in hindsight.

26. Brothers.

My very first roles as daughter, niece, granddaughter pale

In comparison to my role as a sister.

Brothers, you have shown me

That things can always be more irritating,

Louder, more thoughtful, more fun, more vibrant.

You challenge me in all ways to be better.

27. Body.

Body, you and I are permanent travel companions.

The outside pressures of how to make you look,

And now even what to think about you

Are loud and sometimes overwhelming

Forgive me for the times I don’t give you

What we need. I am still learning.

28. Storyteller

It took me a long time to realize

That in all my pursuits, the one thing

That connected them was

An undercurrent of storytelling.

Together, we weave the narratives

Of our lives. And the story continues

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