April 1, 2003 Link
Lessons for Life Link
In honor of April Fools Day, I took some time off from pondering the war we are engaged in, the disaster which the Republican Party is turning in to, and all other mental baggage, and decided to turn my attention to larger things. Never being one who would shy away from starting at the top, I decided to tackle that huge, complex, amazing party we are all attending called "life".
I realized immediately that I'm far from the sharpest marble in the bag, and that in four and a half odd decades, I haven't managed to figure out all that much of it. In fact, I sometimes worry that I eventually find myself on my deathbed having that last profound, moment of epiphany... and it will be that I'm still stupid.
However, I have picked up a thing or two here and there, either through direct observation or through listening to others who had more money to buy clues. And now, little campers, gather around. It's your lucky day because I'm going to share them with you.
1. Don't be a bigot.
Examine privately how you feel about other people and be honest with yourself. Don't be a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist, or anything similar. Don't hate someone because they are black, white or yellow. Don't hate them because they are Jewish or Muslim. Or gay. Or have breasts. Or in any way different than you. Feel free to dislike and/or avoid them if they are an an intolerable ass, but give them a chance to prove they are an intolerable ass first.
You can change. I was raised as a racist. My father came from an earlier and less enlightened time. We also lived in a very rural area with almost no racial diversity.. It's embarrassing, but my parents and their peers just didn't know any better, I suppose.. I was probably ten or twelve before I even knew there was another word for black people besides "the N word". Joining the military can beat that sort of garbage out of you very quickly. (Literally). As can keeping an open mind and exposing yourself to different cultures. You can grow past it.
2. Make a plan for the future.
Yes, you may take the course advised by Blondie and die young and leave a pretty corpse. But you might just get stuck living into your eighties, and you'll have to finance that somehow. And if you, by some miracle, managed to wind up sharing your life with a significant other, you need to not be a selfish (*expletive deleted) and take care of them too.
Start when you're young. I waited far too long, in retrospect, and I regret it. When you're in your early twenties it may seem great to take every cent you earn and blow it on expensive toys and partying, but it's the perfect time to start planning for the future. And saving is not only for people with six figure incomes. If you can even put away just 25 dollars a month, do it. At first, just keep it in a passbook savings account. Then, when you have a couple hundred dollars stored up, start putting it into six month T-bills, or any other totally safe, low interest but no risk program that won't evaporate next time Wall Street wanders off to Bazarro World. Keep stuffing money in there as you can, and forget you have it. You'll thank me some day, trust me.
3. Turn your hat around
There's nothing wrong with baseball caps. They're great, and can come in very handy in a variety of situations. But they have a bill on them because the guy who designed them wanted them to keep the sun and/or rain out of your eyes. Turn your hat around the right way. You look like an idiot. It's rather pointless to worry about your "street cred" when you've not yet risen to the level of being smarter than your clothes.
Yes, yes, I know... you're making a "fashion statement". The statement, my friend, is "You probably shouldn't date me, 'cause I ain't that bright."
4. Turn down your car radio
Really, now, I'm being serious. If you're driving around with your car radio jacked up to where the base line is vibrating the frame of the car so I can hear it from a block away, this is bad. It's bad for the car and it's bad for your ears. I SAID, IT'S BAD FOR YOUR
... oh, forget it.
You may think you're impressing everyone you drive by. You are. You're giving them the impression you're a jackass.
5. Guys, learn how to treat women.
If you find yourself complaining that every woman you manage to wind up in a relationship with isn't interested in sex often enough, maybe you just aren't very good at it. They aren't all in on some vast Feminist front conspiracy against you.. Deal with it. Pour yourself a tall glass of humility and ask her what you should be doing and how she likes it done. It's a conversation best had in bed for play by play instructions, but even sitting on the couch playing monopoly will do. Be willing to learn.
You'll be shocked at how thrilled she is to have the conversation, and you'll be buying yourself an opportunity to get action like a frat boy, in the future.
6. Don't catch, or even worse, give, any S.T.D's
A friend of mine does an impressive comedy impression of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Using that voice, but speaking on the topic of unprotected sex, he said, "As the good Reverend says, if you do not know, do not" (expletive deleted, but I'm sure you get the picture).
The days of "free love" and flower children are gone, if they ever really existed, in terms of your medical health and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition to the corucopia of lesser, but highly dangerous and contagious one, we live in the world of AIDS now. If you catch it, you will die. And you might go for years on end without knowing you have it. In that time you could pass it on to everyone else you come to be involved with. And they will die to. There is so much free information available on how to protect yourself available, I won't bore you with it here. Just start doing it. Today.
7. Don't do drugs.
Shut off the automatic, defensive, "shut up old guy" reaction and take a pause to open your mind and think. I'm speaking mostly of illegal drugs, but anything else you can cut out of your diet will likely pay off in the long run.
Even pot... the "harmless drug" is included here. Trust me, I smoked pot for years when I was young, and did far worse as well. I wish I hadn't. To this day I still have, among the youngest of my friends and associates, people who smoke pot. I can tell the difference between those who do and those who don't. Particularly when they are stoned, but even when they're not, they're just more.... stupid. Apathetic. Less motivated Lazier. Add on a wide array of other terms which you won't find in the thesaurus next to "admirable".
And if you're doing anything harder... coke in any form, heroin, extacy, whatever... stop. Seriously, just stop. Find a way to stop. It will wreck you. It wrecks everyone eventually. It comes in different ways, whether it's health problems, legal problems, employment problems, relationship problems, or whatever. It will wreck you. Stop it and wake up. It's still a pretty beautiful world, even for all it's flaws. Don't die and miss out on it.
Now, benefit from these pearls of wisdom and go about your affairs.