Something Fishy Going On: Ten Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Twenty

Thirty-two (additional) years of learning things the hard way should have some benefit, even if to someone else.  I can say this:  some of these things I suspected all along, with varying degrees of confidence.  Some, however, came as complete and utter surprises.  Nothing earth-shatteringly new here, of course, and all more easily said than done.  What else is new?

  1. You have absolutely no control over what other people think, say, or do.  Partnership with others (be it domestic or in business) should be approached accordingly, with a healthy expectation that they will do things that you’d never expect.  Sometimes, though not nearly often enough, that’s a good thing.
  2. Your time on this earth is much shorter than it seemed while waiting for recess in the 2nd grade.  You can always take time to “stop and smell the roses”, but not as much as you might like.  The fable of the ant and the grasshopper, it turns out, is a right useful reference.
  3. It takes lots of time and dedication to become really good at anything.  Some believe that it may take something akin to 10,000 hours to accumulate a meaningful level of expertise (and, perhaps accordingly, the successful application of your talent).  Four hours of guitar practice (or whatever floats your boat) in each week adds up to that magic number in only 48 years.  Want to get there a bit faster?  Practice more often.  At 40 hours per week, you can shorten that horizon to only 4.8 years.
  4. Habits are more easily made than changed, so try to form good ones.
  5. The world is full of opinions disguised as truth and almost all of them are complete rubbish.  To one extent or another, they’re all wrong.  Don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water”, as they say, but don’t believe everything you hear, read, or see.  And, know this:  the truth is out there, seeking it may be the most important thing you do with your life.
  6. Don’t waste too much time yearning for stuff.  You can’t take it with you, that’s true enough.  But, most of it also:  breaks, becomes obsolete, isn’t at all what you need (or thought it was), is a waste of time and money, both of which are likely to be in short supply.  Get the tools you need, the best you can afford, and little else, accumulating experience (and wisdom) instead.
  7. And, speaking of stuff, the whole money and debt system you’ll (probably) come to loathe over your lifetime is one huge scam.  When it comes to material wealth, you might be prudent or lucky (or both), but that won’t guarantee your happiness or success.  Membership in the “wealth club” comes with burdens that, while seemingly unlikely, may well be worse than you can imagine.  “Blessed are the poor…”  in spirit, perhaps, but humility is often the first victim of success.
  8. So, if you aspire to humility, how does one avoid becoming the world’s doormat?  Well, frankly, you can’t, but you can beat them to the punch, so to speak.  Your greatest joys and successes will come as result of providing really useful service to others, whether to your own family, your neighbors, or your customers.  Giving actually works better than taking.  Generosity works better than hoarding.  Who’d have thunk it?
  9. Progress often requires changing your mind, when you’re wrong, of course.  That knowledge comes from failure, frustration, and pain.  Learn to embrace life’s pitfalls for they are really opportunities to change everything that is wrong in your life.
  10. Finally, there’s more to this life than what you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  You don’t need to understand the physics of it (though it shouldn’t hurt) to get a sense of it, there are clues all around you if your heart and mind are open to seeing things as they really are.  I’ve found the Bible to be the essential advanced guide to this supernatural journey, but also believe that we’re all hardwired with the basic sense necessary to get started.

– HT


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