Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
A reader told me a story and I had to share it. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Recently, a longtime, highly valued subscriber named Pamela Boren sent me a link to a story about 4-day workweeks in the UK. That was interesting by itself—but it also reminded me that Pam had previously sent me something else, a while back.
The earlier submission started with this: “Thoughts from a 60 yr old who still feels 27, except for my knees…“
I went back and read it. I liked it because it’s short, sweet, personal, detailed, poignant and true. It narrows in on one specific thing—but for so many of us, it could be anything.
We talked, I edited lightly—and now we share.
Let me know what you think. Here’s Pam…
The thing I thought I needed
By Pamela Boren
Thoughts from a 60 yr old who still feels 27, except for my knees…
Bottom line upfront: The best things in life are not things.
It sounds simple. But, when I was young there were things I thought I absolutely needed. In fact, there were MANY things on my list.
Then, as time passed and I didn't get those things, I realized that I really didn't miss them. I actually forgot that I’d really wanted those things.
It would have been nice to have them, maybe, but it didn't really make a difference in my life that I had done without them.
Except . . .
OK. Short story.
At age 32, I was the mother to 4 kids, and I desperately wanted a minivan!
All my cool, cute, wealthier friends had minivans.
Also, it wasn’t just any van that I wanted; it was the Chevy AstroVan that I soooooo needed. (Think 1988.)
I loved the look of it. I have loved the idea of having all that room to travel with my kids … and their friends … and all that happiness. I’d finally be happy, like everyone else who had a minivan!
Well, my husband wasn't a great provider, by choice.
I was a stay-at-home mom, which was my choice.
Not only was there no money for a new minivan, but we were driving crappy hand-me-down cars and barely making the monthly bills.
I was angry. I needed an AstroVan. I could really be happy if I had an AstroVan!
But then (you knew there would be a “but then…”) … a mom in my church was driving her AstroVan and was hit in a head-on crash.
The steering wheel went through her chest on impact. She barely survived, and had to have surgeries, and wore a horrible metal halo. Come to find out, the manufacturers knew that the Astro Van had this flaw: when it was hit head-on, the steering wheel went through the driver's chest.
That could have been me. It made me rethink that list of things I thought I desperately needed.
As an aside, because I had been so angry and blamed it all on my dead beat husband, I enrolled in university so I could get a teaching degree and support myself. That one act of defiance lead to a change in my future that would never have happened if I had had the minivan and been “happy.”
I got that degree, taught junior high (and all 4 of my kids). I was the school yearbook adviser, had several nationally award winning yearbooks. Then, I was offered a job with a big yearbook printing company for three times what I was making teaching!
I divorced the deadbeat husband (add tax evasion, adultery and spousal abuse by this time), bought my own house, chose my own car, and had sole control of the remote and the checkbook.
That foundation in printing and publishing gave me the experience I needed to become a graphic designer—and now, a website designer.
I married my high school crush. Life is more than wonderful!
But if I had gotten what I thought I needed way back when, I wouldn't have been angry.
And if I hadn’t been angry, I might have missed out on all the amazing people and events that have happened in my life as a result.
All the best things! So I lived my motto: The best things in life are not things.
I'm sure there is a great closing line here to sum this up. Something cool and inspirational. You have a gift for that!
[From Bill: I think you’re doing just fine.]
I just know I have peace, patience, and a little more wisdom now.
And, I drive a Mini Cooper!
7 other things worth knowing today
Reddit stocks are apparently back: A little-known Hong Kong-based company called AMTD Digital appears to have become the latest obsession of traders on the popular Reddit forum WallStreetBets, helping its stock shoot up 21,000% since its IPO less than a month ago. (CNN)
How the Russian federal security service allegedly tried to sow discord in the United States, including by promoting the so-called “CalExit” campaign to have California secede from the union and form its own country, according to Justice Department indictments. (Sacramento Bee, USDOJ.gov)
Parents who lost their 6-year-old son in the Sandy Hook massacre confronted right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a courthouse Tuesday, saying his claims that the deadliest elementary school shooting in U.S. history was a “giant hoax” created a “living hell” for them. Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, parents of Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn., are seeking $150 million in damages from the Infowars radio show and webcast host and his media company in a defamation trial. (WashPost)
Here’s the story Pam sent me: It's the world's biggest trial of a four-day work week so far. Already, some workers have said they feel happier, healthier and are doing better in their jobs. (CNN)
The making of ‘Silent Bruce Willis.’ Willis was a fast-talking lead who became a man-of-few-words star. It made his mental decline that much harder to notice. (Vulture)
Why it's so hard to find a paper copy of the New York Times in Manhattan in 2022. Related: Why it's so hard to buy anything worthwhile and not cheap at a New York City newsstand, courtesy of the New York City council. (Curbed, Also Curbed)
A teen lifeguard in Colorado went above and beyond last month when a YMCA member went into labor on the pool deck. "We knew the baby was coming. We just didn't know if it was going to be a week, two weeks, or today," said Tessa Rider, who was nine months pregnant with her third child when she and her husband visited their local YMCA on July 24. (People)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Fair use. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here (including two doozies from yesterday’s newsletter; I kind of foolishly decided to check it “one last time” when I woke up in the middle of the night, and inserted two errors). See you in the comments!