Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wisdom is Often Hard-Earned

My friend, fiction writing goddess, and woman I’d most likely dig chicks for, recently put up a “What I’ve Learned” post to commemorate the ending of this year and the turning of the page. Personally, I can’t wait to turn the page and God help me if 2011 is even half as bad as 2010 was… well, God help me anyway, I could use it.

Wait! Don’t leave! I promise I won’t whine… instead I thought I would take my cue from The Divine Ms. O and reflect on the lessons learned, and some of them re-learned, over the last year:

1. They say, “Quitting is easy.” Don’t believe them. Quitting is the hardest thing anyone ever does. It’s the release of hope wrapped in the tattered remnants of failure. No one ever quits anything important without grieving it deeply.

Quitting means you have to give up something of who you are and reinvent yourself… I’ve wondered off and on whether I should logically quit writing – it’s not exactly the most stable of professions. Without getting into the whole poetic gobbledygook of why I haven’t, one of the most profound reasons is that I don’t know who I am without it. And hell, I’d much rather be a failed writer than a successful crazy person with lots of voices in her noggin.

2. You don’t actually need most of your stuff. It’s amazing how much crap you have that you won’t use or look at in months.

3. Merry, Merry, quite contrary – I can say, “They’re only things, they don’t really matter,” as much as I want. There are some things in this world that it will break your heart into pieces to lose.

4. Some people can only see in black and white. To them, people are either good or bad and there is no shade of gray. What they don’t realize is that their inability to accept the shades of gray in others is likely the same foible their loved ones overlook in them. Avoid them when you can.

5. When you have absolutely no idea what to do about a situation, up your gumption. Ask an expert, learn a skill, hell, make it up as you go… any of those solutions will get you farther than sitting on your hands and sobbing.

6. People can be petty and mean and spiteful. But at the end of the day, the only opinion of you that counts is your own. If you let someone else change how you feel about yourself, you’re the only one you have to blame.

7. I understand that forgiveness is healthier for the person holding the grudge… but there is still a small group of people who I wouldn’t cross the street to spit on. (Sorry, E, at least I’ve stopped short of kicking them in the shins.)

8. There is no measure of heartache that can’t be endured in the presence of friendship and laughter.

9. You can’t go home again is a poetic lie. Where you come from is as much a part of your life as blood or breath. Embrace it.

10. I yelled at Him way more than I should have this year. But God knows I’m blessed, and as whiny as I’ve felt lately, I do too…

(and an 11th bonus one – I have a serious ellipsis problem…)

So, what have you learned this year that you’d like to pass on? Any life lessons? Writing skills? Bit of wit?


Laurel said...


This year I've learned that you can be the best of friends with people you've never met in person.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for everthing. I hope Im a better person because of you.

Merry Monteleone said...

Awwwww, Laurel,

That's been one of the best surprises, hasn't it? =)


Merry Monteleone said...


You're welcome... you were a great person already... I just got to take a bit of the ride with you. =)

Anonymous said...

this is inspiring. maybe i'll do one of these :)

Merry Monteleone said...

You know, I'm not sure how to shorten than username... now I have to make up a new nickname.

whaddayameany (no, I think you're too sweet for that one)
Dessertgirl... I kinda like that one... sounds like a super hero with tiramisu.

Glad you found it inspiring. I'd love to see yours - I know you had a change filled year, I bet it would be a great post.

Travis Erwin said...

I've learned my voice doesn't match my online image.

Merry Monteleone said...

That's okay, Travis. You have a sweet softspoken twang - personally, I think it's perfect. Besides, my neighborhood accent is apparently not as bad as ya'll figured either. ;-)

jjdebenedictis said...

This is an inspiring post, Merry! Thanks for it.

I can't remember what I've learned. I think I learned that my memory is kinda bad. :)

Erica Orloff said...

You outdid me. This was beautiful.

Just love ya bunches.

And that quitting thing? I am just starting to see that . . . and you are very right about it.

Merry Monteleone said...


Have I told you lately that I love you? =)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi E,

Thank you for the inspiration - always.

And yeah, the quitting thing just hit me this year, too... another of the myriad of ways we must've been separated at birth.

Love ya, too. xoxoxox

jjdebenedictis said...

I'll remember you saying that! :D

Merry Monteleone said...

You should, JJ. Tack it to your wall. It's always good to remember people love you.

Stephen Parrish said...

Quitting is the hardest thing anyone ever does. It’s the release of hope wrapped in the tattered remnants of failure. No one ever quits anything important without grieving it deeply.

This belongs in Bartlett's. If you opened an article with this paragraph, I'm sure an editor somewhere would take notice.

Merry Monteleone said...


Thank you for making me smile. Every once in a while I kick out a good one... that was my favorite paragraph, too...