Sunday, January 2, 2011

Layers of Understanding

I have an appreciation for people older than myself--especially those who have achieved great age. Life has a way of giving new insights to old problems as you go along. Consequently, I value the insights of those who have already lived through some of the problems I currently deal with. With life experiences come new layers of understanding, new ways of coping in the world. Sometimes in our self-centered humanness we perceive that the very nature of truth has changed. The reality is what has changed is our understanding.

In my twenties, I had an experience with my grandmother that pained me a little. In talking to her about my cousin's wedding, she made the statement that my cousin made the most beautiful bride she had ever seen. What hurt me was that she had been to my wedding shortly before and even my sister's shortly after. My first thought was, "What am I? Chopped liver?" However, it really wasn't a huge deal and I let it go.

Several years later, I was talking to my mother. During the course of the conversation, she began to discuss how my cousin was more like my grandmother's daughter, as my grandmother had a large hand in raising my cousin because of the health problems of her parents. At that point, I realized why my grandmother had made the statement she had about my cousin being the most beautiful bride she had ever seen. My cousin was her daughter in many respects!

Within the past year, I have gotten even more insight into the whole situation. You see, I have been dealing with a daughter who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder. Even though my daughter is smart and has many talents, she is also very troubled and has been her whole life. She has never been what the world would call "normal". Consequently, it has taken me years to accept my daughter will never have the perfect life one hopes for their children. In looking back at the family history, my aunt (my cousin's mother) had very similar problems to my daughter. Understanding how my experiences with my daughter have pained me, I know my grandmother felt similar pain when thinking about her own daughter. My cousin, on the other hand, is much more "normal". She found a wonderful husband and they have had a terrific life together. Deep down, my grandmother recognized this. In my cousin, my grandmother finally had the happy ending she once longed to have in her own daughter. Because of this new insight, I am now happy in the realization that my grandmother finally found some peace and hope. That is what her statement meant.

There's an old adage that time heals all wounds. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that experience often brings insights which lead to wisdom, mellowing the pain of the experience. Truth does not change, although our understanding of it often does. The difference lies in additional insights which change our perspectives from what they once were. These layers of understanding add a richness and depth to our lives here on earth. They add to our understanding of truth, and ultimately truth is what we are here to discover.

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