A Sort of Guest Post: Wisdom from my Mom

My mom sent me an encouraging email concerning one of my previous posts about learning (at least 1 of the 7 remaining hours of the day.) I tried to cut it down, but there were just too many delightful bits, so here it is for everyone to benefit from:


My dearest daughter, of course you are learning something in the 7 hours you have left. You are learning whatever you are watching on TV — that may be comedic timing or cultural awareness or the narrative structure of science fiction. When you play a video game, you are developing problem solving and fine motor skills, strategies for engaging learners, and the nuances of games other computer nerds of your generation obsess over — which is sort of like learning to play golf in your profession. If you want to network professionally, you have to have social skills (albeit rather asocial ones) and credibility as a proficient in defeating the powers of darkness with your superdy-duper nanosonic lazerblastofistomacator. And if one of those does not exist yet, you are learning that it does not exist yet, which is important for when you develop your own game app for those little toys you guys carry on your belt clip, pretending that it’s a phone. When you try out Martha Stewart’s latest tips for your kitchen, you are learning what you should or should not try to pull off for an important luncheon with your future daughter-in-law’s parents. When you gravitate toward learning things that you love, you are learning what you love — which is a valuable thing to know.

When you were a wee bit younger and still unaware of the world beyond my womb, I read War and Peace and Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley and her Villette and Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildefell Hall — because I wanted to and I could and I didn’t have to apologize for sitting around the house doing what I loved to do, which is read. Of course, I did feel somewhat guilty for wasting my days, but over 25 years later, when I was taking a Victorian literature course for the master’s degree I had finally decided I had time to go after, we had to read Charlotte Bronte’s Villette and Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildefell Hall — and even though I didn’t remember much from either book, they began to come back to me as I re-read them and loved them all the more for the skills I had developed through years of doing all kinds of other things — and I have been constantly amazed at how the little nothings of my life have turned into valuable bits and pieces that begin to come together in my middle age (or is that already gone?) in very rich ways.

So learn a new programming language because that is what you love to do and give yourself permission to garden and try a new recipe and decorate your home — and if you discover that you are better at some of those things than others or that you love some of those things more than others — so what? I am still very proud of the fact that I can make a beautiful ice ring with pansies in it and that I once took pink cream cheese rosebud mints on a silver tray with a white lace doily underneath to a church social, and someone said, “Oh, I knew you made those. You are just the sort of person who would bring something classy like that.” (Of course, I’m actually just the sort of person who would bring a bag of BBQ Lays and a Diet soda, but it was a moment of triumph to seem otherwise for one brief shining moment.)

Well, I know you well, my dear, so I’m fairly certain that you won’t read to the end of this message, so I can end with confidence admonishing you as I should. Mary Beth, what are you doing with your life? Get your butt out of the computer chair and go do something, for crying out loud. Why haven’t you learned Russian and Serbian yet? You could meet someone in Germany who speaks those languages, and it could be very valuable to be able to communicate with them, and if you don’t, you will lose a valuable networking connection. 97 indeed….you always did hang out with friends who had no aspirations. I always knew that Jessica ——- girl was trouble….

Have a great week. I love you.

Mom

So I decided to spend an hour studying the the narrative structure of a multi-episode story arch of Dr. Who.

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