I’ve reached the halfway point of this 30×30 series. Kind of crazy. There have been some themes: my lessons so far include a lot about fear, letting go, and patience. A lot of them, like Lesson 8, are deeply about how I view myself; others, like Lesson 5, are about how I consider my positioning in this world. On certain days, I find myself writing about what I’m struggling with at that moment (Lesson 14); other days, I write about a lesson that has impacted me repeatedly (Lesson 12). My goal has been to tell stories, reflect at where I am and from where I’ve come, honor the individuals who have allowed me to live my life beside theirs, and maybe impact the way you guys, my friends and readers, think of yourselves.
As I thought through this project as I approached its halfway point, in addition to realizing I have a lot of growing to do I noticed that Lesson 11 was the only post that spoke toward a tangible realization — appreciating that I can walk. Not that the other realizations don’t have tangible results — they bleed into the way I act and choose in very physical, daily ways — but I began wondering what other direct, physical skills I have gained throughout the past 29 years.
Grandma Grove taught me to roll a pie crust. Peggy Grove taught me to play the piano. Julia Child, voiced through Jon Hoey, taught me how to cook eggs (“low heat and lots of butter”). I am extremely glad to know these things, just like I am grateful to the bottom of my soul to have learned to a foreign language, how to eat with chopsticks, and how to properly pour a beer.
But everything else I really care about, I learned from my older brother.
Two years older than me, Chris Grove was my original partner-in-crime, my original best friend. Together our domain was hay forts and four-wheelers, star-gazing and math problems. As a current student in the humanities, I’m often not called to make sense of elementary chemistry, but everything else I’m so relieved to know — how to climb trees, jump a car, swing a hammer, braid bailer twine, change oil, discuss space voyages, grasp basic physics, properly hold a flashlight for someone who is working, differentiate between screwdrivers, and drive an automatic vehicle — I learned from him. (And all that time, I thought we were only playing.)
Because of Chris, when I am faced with problems outside my league, I feel less unarmed and more secure. The lessons he taught me remind me daily that I am a much more complex individual than just a French student, life partner, a writer, and a daughter. Instead, I am the intricacies that make Sylvia.
When thinking of life’s lessons this tangibly — down to the nails we drive in and the computer programs we run — I am even more impressed by how different we all would be without the other people who frame our lives.
It’s humbling. It’s beautiful.