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Essays by Karen Anderson: What I Know So Far

Illustration by Kacie Brown

I recently came upon a list I gave my daughter in 1995 when she was 22 years old and leaving for a year in Vienna. A list called, “What I Know So Far.” A list of 30 things I believed and wanted to pass on to her.

Rereading them all these years later, I am inspired and embarrassed and saddened. Inspired by statements that still seem valuable. Such as “Nurture the people who nurture you.” And “Create and honor rituals.” And this favorite, “Growth is a process of re-vision: slow, difficult, forever.”

I am embarrassed by statements that seem too simplistic now, in light of life’s hard lessons. Such as, “Love is always worth the risk.” And “Even sadness wears itself out.” And this one, “Anger is energy: use it and use it up.”

Finally, I am saddened by statements that no longer seem true, although I wish they were. Like, “Every day contains something worth being there for.” Or “There’s always a way to find out what you need to know.” And especially this : “Good things are always on their way to you.”

Rereading this list, I’m struck by my optimism, my idealism. Were they misplaced? I’m not sure. Do I still believe those things? Yes and no.

Would I change the list? Maybe not.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.