Most Often Learned Too Late in Life

c4b932f9-d17e-459d-a613-b00932c1443fI came across the following list on quora.com and it prompted me to add one myself.

  • A logical mind is easily deceived and at times simply a liar… James Browning

Summary of lessons people learnt too late in life:

  • Just because you think its a good idea, doesn’t mean it is a good idea… Chris Herd
  • Be Careful What You Get Good At …Christian Bonilla
  • Sacrificing your health to pursue wealth isn’t worth it …Nelson Wang and Don’t take your body for granted …Gilad James
  • Right and Wrong are subjective truths …Pradeeta Mishra
  • None of the best experiences of your life will happen staring a computer screen, a phone screen or a TV …Evan Asano
  • Keep yourself strong because forever is a lie …Anis Farheen
  • All you need is enough energy to see tomorrow …Mike Leary
  • Over-promise sets you apart from the people who under-promise. 
Over-deliver sets you apart from people who just delivered …James Altucher
  • The secret of Happiness is to find out what you love and then directing all your energy towards doing it …Rohan Sinha
  • Keep trying until you get it right …Nikola Gjakovski
  • All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them …Akhil Ramachandran
  • The only place where our dreams become IMPOSSIBLE is your thinking… Robert Shuller
  • Make sure to wake up smarter tomorrow … Adam Bielecki
  • Don’t let words of mouth control you, take control of your life by yourself. Michael Gbenga

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-lessons-people-most-often-learn-too-late-in-life

Burn the candles,
use the nice sheets,
wear the fancy lingerie.
Don’t save it for a special occasion.
Today is special.
Regina Brett

Posted in Life, Living life well, Wisdom | Tagged , ,

But For the Grace of God

My memory of that afternoon awakens thoughts of a sunny fall day.  Back in time a dozen years it was one of those in-between days of not cold yet, but not warm either.  Balanced between extremes that Saturday was one of those cool fall days I love most.

Gone are the details of where my then-wife and I were driving to, but clear is the mental image of the ramp she was exiting on.  It was one of those long, circular highway exits that causes you go twenty-five miles an hour around three-quarters of a circle to get to the other side of the road.  Once there I looked down on that side of the in-town freeway to see an old car with a much older man outside taking to someone sitting on the passenger side.

After getting my wife to pull over over safely on the side of the ramp, I got out and yelled down to the stranded man “are you OK?”  A slow Oklahoma country drawl came from the old man’s mouth “No sir, we ain’t”.   He looked harmless enough and had some difficulty walking, so I felt safe headed down the bank of the ramp to get close enough to talk to him.  On my way down I saw he was at least seventy-five or so and his passenger was a woman near his age who I assumed was his wife, which he later confirmed.

As I stopped about six feet away from him, the old man said “once upon a time I was rich, but not no more.  That’s been gone for a long time.  It’s OK, but it’s hard when I come up short sometimes like now”.  I asked what was going on and he answered “we’re trying to get to some family down in Tahlequah.  The gas gauge don’t work and I thought we had enough to get there.  I was wrong and we ain’t got no money.”

About that time I saw the head of a baby close to a year old pop up from the lap of the woman in the car.  The old man said “that’s my great grand baby!  My wife and I been takin’ care of her ‘cause her momma and daddy ain’t no good.  It’s hard on us, but church helps us some and we get by.  I try not to complain ‘cause it’s what the good Lord sent us.  When I hold that little baby I just know God’ll provide for us somehow”.

I asked about credit cards and found they didn’t have any.  I knew what had to be done. Remembering a farm supply store a few miles away across from a mini-mart I told him we’d be back be back in fifteen or twenty minutes with some gas.  At that moment the first smile I’d seen on the old guy’s face lit up.  The smile was missing half the teeth it once had but was warm and genuine.  His relief was obvious.  As I walked back to our car above I heard his “thank you mister” followed by the old woman chiming in right after with “God bless you sir”.

A half hour later we were back with a near full red plastic five gallon gas can.  My wife stayed in the car after we pulled up behind them on the shoulder of the road.  Not much spilled as I poured the gas into the tank of the old car without a funnel.  When done the old guy began trying to start his car.  It took a while and several false starts with the engine spitting and sputtering until it roared to life.  The motor was not running well, but seemed like it could get them to where they needed to go.

After buying the gas can and gas, I still had twenty-five dollars and some change left.  I kept a five and tried to give the remaining twenty to the old man sitting behind wheel of his old car.  He said “No sir, I ain’t gonna take your money.  You already been real too kind to us.  I’m much obliged God sent you.”  I insisted saying he didn’t have enough gas to finish his trip.  He continued to resist and shake his head side to side to say “no”.

Walking around to the passenger side of the car I made eye contact with the old lady and asked her if it would be OK if I gave her the money for the baby.  She looked at her husband and then at me… and repeated looking back and forth between us several times.  She never said a word, but ever so slightly he nodded his head “yes” to her.  I handed the money through the window and as she took it she held back tears and repeated the same four words I had heard her say earlier; “God bless you sir”.  Soon the car steered onto the highway and faded into the distance.

To this day I don’t know why I believed the old man.  He could have been a con artist, but if so he was damn good at it.  Even now I feel certain he was legit.  Real pain and fear are hard to make up.  The exact look in his face when he first looked into my eyes and began to speak saying “I used to be rich….” clearly showed the old man’s anguish.

Even thought my now ex-wife was nervous enough to not get out of her truck, she was proud of what I did that day.  There will always be gladness within that we got to help someone in need, but to an even greater degree I am grateful for the gift I got that day.   Many times I have remembered the old man’s words “I used to be rich…” and how they touched me.  Thinking about those words and the situation I found him is a reminder that nothing on this Earth is permanent.  Tough times harder than we can even imagine are never far away from happening. The possessions I own, the money I have, the good health I enjoy: everything could all be gone in a blink!  I am grateful my memory of the encounter with the old couple is so vibrant yet today.  Each time I recall it my mind whispers softly to my soul, “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

Courage is as often the outcome of despair as of hope;
in the one case we have nothing to lose,
in the other, everything to gain.
Diane de Pointiers

First posted here 5 years ago on December 6, 2011

Posted in Life, Material Things, People, Wisdom | Tagged , ,

Slivers of Insight

“Eyes in the back of the head” always seemed like a nonsensical statement that grownup’s sometimes claimed to have when I was young. Outside of being a figure of speech the phrase never had any particular meaning to me, at least not until the last decade. Now I think of those backward viewing “eyes” as being real as long as I forget they are there.

At the moment my life is happening it is frequently unclear exactly what is going on. Activity of all sorts mix together to figuratively “stir up the dust” so no one spot can be perceived plainly. If it comes at all, gaining insight about the past comes in similar fashion to glancing into the distance at straight railroad and noticing the rails converging on a point. Understanding, when it comes, takes time, comes as an unexpected glimpse and only when looked back upon from a far-off view.

Also in my past there is the pointless, absurd, irrational, meaningless, nonsensical, useless and ridiculous of which no logical perception is possible. To try find real meaning where there is none to be found is “barking at the moon” and expending energy for no possible gain. It is a sickness of sorts to repeatedly attempt to find an answer to the unanswerable.

When some measure of clarity comes to me about the past, it is almost never because I have “made myself” think about it until a conclusion arrived. Quite the contrary. What comprehension and insight I get arrives when I am long done beating the subject up and have let it go sometime ago. Only when I let my grasp go is discernment and comprehension of any of my past possible.

There is irony in the fact that the more I let go of my past, the better I understand bits and pieces of it. I am grateful for that insight and for those slivers of insight that make them selves known once I tire of digging for them.

I’ve never tried to block out the memories of the past,
even though some are painful.
I don’t understand people who hide from their past.
Everything you live through helps to make you the person you are now.
Sophia Loren

First posted July 29, 2012

Posted in Insight, Life, Perspective, The Past | Tagged ,

With Our Thoughts

19All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him;
if a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him;
like a shadow that never leaves him.
Buddha

In my mind there is always a wind of thought blowing. It’s precise force and direction is ever-varying, but the breeze is constant. If I focus on one way of thinking enough I become bent into that direction like a tree blown by a constant wind.

If I spend time thinking of my want and desire of something, I get no closer to satisfying the longing and instead cause unsated yearning to grow.

If frequently go to thoughts of how much someone hurt me in the past, I bring the pain to the present to breathe new life into it.

If I am able to bring a joyful memory to mind during a difficult time, my trouble is tempered and made less heavy.

The more I am grateful of love I am given, the more love I received.

The more I am grateful for happy moments when they arrive, the more come to me.

The greater my gratitude for life, more arrives to be grateful for.

It is not within my control to master all my thoughts, but at any given moment I am capable of moderating them. It is the direction of the winds in my mind that shape my life. Realizing quality of life is more about my thinking that any other factor has been a great insight. I am grateful that with awareness I can paint whatever comes at me with new color of my choosing.

With our thoughts,
we make the world.
Buddha

First posted here February 20, 2013

Posted in Attitude, Life, What really matters, Wisdom | Tagged , ,

Love Letter To Someone I Don’t Know & Never Met

Today offered the opportunity to stroll back through some of the blogs I’ve written over the last four years. While pure fantasy and fiction, this one is a favorite and was originally posted on August 12, 2011. It’s filled with hope, fantasy and love for an imaginary person. Hope you enjoy its’ reboot.

“The Love Letter” painted by August Toulmouche

Recently I have read several articles about old love letters being discovered by people unrelated to the writer or addressee.  In one instance a letter discovered was written 50+ years ago and finally made it to the intended recipient.  Another was a note scribbled 200 years ago and discovered folded up tightly in the arm of an antique chair being restored.  In another example a bundle of love letters from World War I were discovered in an antique shop and the finder was trying to locate the family of either the writer or the one being written to.  Reading these stories brought what may be viewed as a silly thought, but one I followed through on.  I imagined a letter I had written being discovered decades after my death.  I decided to try letting one flow from me that I would be pleased for a future third-party to read and what follows is what flowed without effort from within me.

An old love letter never written from a time long ago to someone I don’t know and never met…..

Dear ________ ,

When we met for the first time is as fresh in my memory as one moment ago.  As of today it was exactly one month ago.  So much has happened in a very short time.  My world is permanently changed and I am altered beyond what I can express with language.  If I never saw you again I would mourn that happening deeply.  Yet what has been awakened within me would remain as a permanent reminder that my heart is not yet dead as I had long thought it was.

How do I express the feelings growing inside me without seeming to be lost in some obvious state of delirium and euphoria?  My answer is “I can not”.  Science says the initial attraction between a man and woman creates a sort of partial insanity.  Then that explains it.  I am insane over you my darling and I revel in my madness.

How well I know that life never brings a path filled only with joy and delight.  To think things are so is a true hallucination.  I know what fills me now will be intertwined with challenge, trial and difficulty.  Am I a lunatic to think now that such moments can be borne with grace upon the back of the love I have discovered?  No.  I do not think I am crazy to think that. What is built in the future upon the rock of what we are sharing, can withstand most any force a human can bear.  Of that I am certain.

Yes, I dare speak of love knowing it has not been spoken between us so far.  Am I am a coward for writing here instead of looking into your eyes as the words are formed by my heart and released through my voice?  Maybe so, but my feelings are true.  I write because my poetic soul within is determined to use beautiful words to express itself.  The depths of my feelings demand I can do no less.

Yes, my sweet… I am in love…. with you.  As I write this letter I know as certainly as the moon will rise later tonight and the sun will follow in the morning, what is expressed here in pen and ink is dependable and true.   My restless soul seems to no longer be searching for something unknown for now the purpose of its quest has been found:  YOU!  Without confusion and with complete clarity I say again, I love you ______.   I speak first of what I am nearly certain is within you in like form.  With all my being I hope my perception is accurate!

What we are sharing is admirable and sincere.  Our enchantment is real.  Our bliss is genuine.  I know someday when we share the delight of our selves in physical form our delight will be heightened and multiplied beyond what I ever could have hoped for.  For now I am glad we have resisted what could have happened so easily.  It is a testament that we guard what has been discovered and so want only the best for the gift of love between us.  May we continue to take the time to build a love strong and lasting while resisting haste.

So please know my sweet darling you have touched me as I have never been touched before.  You have reached me on a deeper level than I thought possible.  It has been said by some that loving another makes them feel more complete, yet I question the accuracy of that.  I do not feel more complete by loving you, but I do feel richer and as if I have discovered so much more of myself through knowing you.  It is as if you were the light I needed in order to glimpse who I really am and all I can be.

After reading this letter, I wonder every minute until then how you will greet me when next we meet.  My heart vibrates with hope that you meet me then knowing you have found a match for what you hold inside for me.

I love you my darling,

__________

With much gratitude that I am able to do so, I wrote the above openly and without reservation.  The words traveled from mind to fingers to screen at the moments I thought them just as I thought them without editing.  No longer do I feel the need to hide away any element of my hapless romantic soul.  I no longer fear the real me within and instead here and now express my thankfulness again for it.

A day, a week, a month are past,
Another year is by;
Beside her on the open’d desk,
His old love letters lie.
She reads them till the day-light fades,
And ‘neath the moon-lit sky,
She sleeps at rest, for on her breast
Those old love letters lie.
Auguste Toulmouche

Posted in Hopes and Dreams, Life, Love, Romantic relationships | Tagged , ,

Letter to a Heartbroken Friend

Re-posted again for yet another friend nursing a broken heart…

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To a dear heartbroken friend:

Don’t worry about the future. It will unfold as it does, unaffected by your thought and worry. What is to be will not be swayed one millimeter by your anguish. I know you are heartbroken, but it is not love that is the source of most of your pain. Love is always pure and never the source of grief.  Given time, if you allow it, misery and sorrow will overpower the purity of your love and bury it in animosity and bitterness. Please don’t let that happen.

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing… Elizabeth Gilbert

Comfort and happiness, as enjoyable as they feel, are not catalysts for personal development. It’s the difficult times where fertile ground exists for our growth. Please do not hate your pain. Growth is always uncomfortable; sometimes even agonizing. Accept the hurting with a thankfulness for what was instead of a dread for what might or might not be again one day.

I wish I could tell you getting past your heartbreak will be easy. It won’t be. But if you intentionally let go a little each day, slowly your aching will ease. With effort you’ll be able to not think about your loss for a little while at a time and with practice your heartache will be out of heart and mind more and more. Progress will be slow, but certain if you make is so.

Giving her (him) the space she (he) has asked you for is a certain way to show your love to her. To cling and grab to hold on, will only shred into jagged pieces what was once shared. If there is more for you two to share, it will arrive in its due time and not one second before.

Peace and Love,

James

I am grateful for friends who are comfortable enough with me to share their deep private feelings. It is in a common trust and sharing of emotion and thought with others who “get me and I them” that healing and recovery is possible.

We crucify ourselves between two thieves:
regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.
Fulton Oursler

Posted previously on April 16, 2013 & August 7, 2014

Posted in Friends, Grief, Romantic relationships | Tagged , ,

You Have To…

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First posted on Good Morning Gratitude on July 3, 2014

Life will break you.
Nobody can protect you from that,
and living alone won’t either,
for solitude will also break you with its yearning.
You have to love.
You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to risk your heart.
You are here to be swallowed up.
And when it happens that you are broken,
or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near,
let yourself sit by an apple tree
and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps,
wasting their sweetness.
Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
Louise Edrich “The Painted Drum”

Posted in Life, Life as it really is, Living life well | Tagged ,

Unrestrained Innocence

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First posted on August 27, 2013

When we are children we seldom think of the future.
This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can.
The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.
Patrick Rothfuss

Before there was maturity, adult ways, sexual attraction and worries of the world the uncorrupted simplicity of childhood filled me. A good while prior to “liking” a girl, studying for tests, giving book reports or choosing sides on the playground was the beautiful naivety of a child.

I am reminded of myself long ago by stories I am told by my best friend about one specific grandchild. This young man daily exhibits the unrestrained innocence of the first few years of life better than most. One particular habit of his is laughing fits before bed, brought on especially when he is tired. Over time it’s been noted when a strong laughter episode overtakes him before bed he sleeps even better than usual. I suspect the world would be a better place if all of us had a genuine laughing fit before nodding off each night.

Clearly I recall how ‘grown up’ and happy I was to take breakfast to my father. I was four years old. My Dad, Mom, little Brother and I lived in the country where my parents operated a small store and gas station. The little two room house where we lived was down a dirt road about a hundred yards away. That day I had the honor of walking breakfast over to my Father who opened the grocery very early each morning.

In a small box with the sides cut down to about four inches high my Mother had placed a plate with aluminum foil covering scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Black coffee was in a pint canning jar. I was told to be very careful and walk slow. That’s exactly what I did and felt so very proud to be trusted with such an honor as taking my Dad his breakfast. Carrying the box hid the immediate view in front of me and I stubbed my toe badly. I dropped the box and the coffee jar broke. I was so disappointed and humiliated plus my toe was hurt and bleeding.

The breakfast was held on the plate by the foil and that is all I arrived with to give my Father through my tears. No one got on to me. I was not in trouble. I was only disappointed with myself. It was the first of such a feeling I can remember and a little of my innocence was lost that day.

I am grateful to remember…

Sometimes,
I miss so much the person
that I was before the world
tore me up in so many places.
C. Joybell C.

Posted in Growing Up, Learning from kids, Memories, What really matters | Tagged , ,

Improved Means to an Unimproved End

First posted June 30, 2012

Living in a country where I have been programmed to consume, it’s difficult not to indulge to or even past the point of what I can afford. Things have not always been so in this country. Somewhere in the last hundred years or so American culture went from pursuing our needs to one of chasing our wants. Hence, the concept of a “standard of living” came about which is made possible by all who want to sell stuff at a profit.

It is evident to me I don’t need most of what I have, but have been advertised into a little bit of insanity about raising my “standard of living”; having more stuff, newer stuff, better stuff or more expensive stuff. Like a hamster on a wheel I have gone round and round trying to satisfy an insatiable desire. There is nothing wrong with wanting, but what I do about those desires matters.

As one friend said to me years ago, “having lots of stuff is OK, as long as the stuff does not have you”. Having grown up poor it has been easy for me to grow emotionally connected to my stuff as I have succeeded and progressed professionally. Having “stuff” is part of my “other esteem” issue when things outside me sometimes get substituted for where my self-esteem should be. Just recognizing I do that and accepting it has been a healthy step.

Now days I sometimes finding myself feeling burdened by all the things I have. Moving out of the country for a year a while back I was amazed how much storage space was needed for my stuff. No storage unit was large enough. I had to rent a warehouse!

What I hang on to actually shapes my life to an extent. The stuff determines to a point how I spend my money, where I live, what I do and don’t do and even when I do it. Honestly there have been times when I yearned for the youthful days when everything I owned would fit in my car and the smallest Uhaul trailer I could rent. True or not, I recall feeling freer back then. Certainly youth contributed to that sense, but the lack of things/stuff/possessions/crap/junk, whatever you want to call them, had a lot to do with how I felt.

So what have I done recently? Completed a project of framing items collected for twenty plus years.  My holiday weekend project is to hang them in my home. More stuff to care for and maintain. Alas, my addiction continues, but not without some progress.

I am grateful to recognize my affliction and even understand it a little. Half of facing any issue is coming to realize it exists. There I have arrived and now the difficult work begins over time: making my load of stuff lighter. After all, everything I own will belong to someone else one day. One of the sorting mechanisms I have already discovered for deciding what to keep and not keep is asking myself “I wonder how much this will sell for at an estate/garage sale some day?”

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys,
which distract our attention from serious things.
They are but improved means to an unimproved end.
Henry David Thoreau

Posted in Life, Seeing 'what is', Self Awareness | Tagged , ,

I am Nobody but Myself

 

Originally posted November 29, 2011

I am all the ages I’ve ever been.
Anne Lamott

I love that quote!  It is insightful and true.

I am still the little 3 1/2 year-old boy who sneaked his father’s pocket knife and when no one was looking busied himself poking holes in the bottom of a metal Band-Aid can, at least until I jammed the whole blade deep into the side of my left hand I was holding the box with.  The moment I saw the blood is my first real memory of knowing fear.  I remember vividly being scared and then seeing how afraid my twenty-two year old mother was when she couldn’t get the bleeding stopped.  Wrapping my hand that wept blood with each of my heartbeats in a towel she took me to her mother’s house about a quarter of a mile away.  How we got there I have no memory of.

My grandmother was the daughter of a man known in his time as an “herb doctor”.  Country folk depended on such healers for every day medical needs as the closest doctor was ten to twenty miles away.  She knew from watching her father that turpentine and sugar would stop bleeding.  Generous amounts of both were poured on my hand, held in place by a towel and the bleeding did slowly stop.  Except it burned like hell, that’s all I have clear memory of.  I do know my hand healed and when making a face with the side of my hand using my thumb as the bottom of a mouth, one eye is already there; a scar from that old wound.

Still today I am the little boy who entered first grade when I was two months past my 6th birthday.  In the rural south there was no kindergarten except a private one in town the “rich kids” got to go to.  I was not one of those.  Being dropped into the first year of school with basically no preparation it remains abundantly clear today how fearful I was initially.  The whole place intimidated me and I struggled at first.  Gradually being sad and wanting to go home went away.  I caught up, was able to keep up and in time grew to love school.

The seven-year old boy in his second year in grade school is still within me.  I had Mrs. Betty Levie as my teacher.  She was young and liked us kids.  We liked her.  Years later she would be my science teacher in junior high and encouraged me to enter projects into several science fairs.  She even drove me to a regional fair forty miles away that my family had no interest in getting me to.  Without Mrs. Levie’s help I would never have won the regional junior high first place trophy for Zoology when I was thirteen.

A boy of ten’s memory is alive and recalls sitting at the kitchen table with his mother and brother eating dinner when she made her big announcement.  She was going to marry the guy she had been seeing which my brother and I did not like at all.  My mind screamed “don’t do it”, but the words were never spoken aloud.  I knew it would do no good to open my mouth.  Within two years this man we were made to call “dad” showed himself to be mentally twisted and down right evil.  Even if it would have done no good, I wish I had spoken up when my mother asked how we felt about her marrying the turkey!

I am still the young man who moved to Colorado at eighteen who struggled to make ends meet.  Having my car repossessed was an embarrassment I can still feel today.  I stuck it out in Colorado Springs and in time was able to support myself working a full-time and two part-time jobs.  While other young twenty-something’s were partying and having a good time, I was working three jobs.  I don’t regret it though.  That determination I managed to muster served me well then and what I learned from the experience has been a good reference point ever since.

The young man of twenty-three who took a bride of twenty-two is still within. We were both just “kids”.  Outwardly so sure of where I was going while internally scared with no idea what the future held, my young wife was the stability I needed to begin to make some sense of life.  Ultimately the marriage ended up being a mess, but it lasted for two decades, produced a son I love dearly and contained my first lessons of what love was.

And so on… I am the same person I was at 30 when my son arrived, at 40 when my first marriage stated to fall apart and at 50 when I was fired from a job of eighteen years.  All the ages I have been created a life cut into facets like a diamond that sparkles in the light when looked at it from an appreciating angle.  Some detail has faded into the background, but key events and periods that shaped me are vividly within. During the near fifty-eight and a half years I have been blessed with so far, I am thankful to have the ability to remember so much. Gratitude runs deep for it all; the joy, the pain, the happiness, the heartache and the love that shaped and guided me to be the man I am today.

All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was.  I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory.  I was naïve.  I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.  It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with:  that I am nobody but myself.  Ralph Ellison

Posted in Beyond the obvious, Embracing life, Life | Tagged , ,