Ronda Rich: Pondering and learning

Someone I do not know but who is a reader of my column wrote the other day to ask, "When these people or situations cross your life, do you take notes of what you're learning from them?"

She was intrigued by the stories I related and the lessons I had learned from them.

Most of us -- especially kids and teenagers -- are too distracted these days by constant chatter to absorb situations and observe people who cross our paths. There is too much talking and typing going on so brains are not being stretched and properly used. It's almost laughable, I suppose, to remember all the summer evenings that Mama and I sat on the porch and watched the traffic go by.

We'd finish up a supper of fresh vegetables, wash the dishes, and she'd say, "Let's go out on the porch and sit a spell. We can watch the cars go by."

Not that there were many -- we lived out in the country where our address was Rural Route One -- but there were enough to entertain us.

Once when I was 11 or 12, I was sprawled out under my favorite maple tree on the creek bank. I was lying on my belly, chin in hands, daydreaming as usual when I became completely immersed in studying a trail of ants. I watched them for a long time and I remember saying to myself, "Everything I see in life will be something I can use. One day, I will think of these ants again." And, look, that's exactly what I've done.

On those summer nights on the porch, I recall how Mama would sit and string those green beans. She was thinking.

I learned a lot from Mama but one of the best lessons she taught me was to be still and quiet. To observe and think. Then, to use those observations to develop wisdom.

To the reader who asked: Thank you. It's nice to be reminded of the education provided by nights on the porch, watching the cars go by. It's sweet to remember where I learned to think and ponder.

I like thinking about it again.

Ronda Rich, author of "There's A Better Day A-Comin'," writes the Dixie Diva column that appears in several newspapers.