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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Things You Realize (as an older adult)

Random thoughts on what I've seen and experienced as I continue to grow up.

Some People Just Give Up
Yes, it seems that some folks just plain give up.  They give up learning new stuff, they give up laughing, they give up physically moving, they give up caring.  Now I just can't understand why some folks just plain give up, but they do.  The even sadder part?  Every grain of my existence tells me that everyone, each and every one of us, has things to contribute up until the time we die.  And maybe, if we are really lucky, even after we die.  Giving up just seems to deprive the world and ourselves of so much.  Maybe giving up is just about the most selfish act we can engage in as humans.

Some People Never Stop Competing
Probably on the polar opposite end of giving up, some folks seem to be on a perpetual quest to be better than you (not just me, but you too).  Granted that I see less of this in my own generation as I grow older, but it is never the less true.  It's as if these folks are on a perpetual race against the rest of the world, not really ever stopping to realize that there is an end to the race and once there, the result is always a tie:  we all get to die.

Never Trust Someone That Animals Don't Like
Now I'm not talking about all animals, as there are some plain mean cats and dogs out there (made mean, most times, by horrible owners, but so I digress), but rather the following generality:  Animals are sometimes better at judging character than people.  Know that somehow who dogs wouldn't go up to and cats always run away from?  Well that's someone who we probably shouldn't go up to and someone we should probably run away from too.  

We Sabotage Ourselves (far more than others do)
"We have met the enemy and he is us"...something one far smarter than I said (and yes, I could look up the author, but at the moment I'm simply too lazy to do so), which is completely true.  Yes, we all do catch bad breaks here and there, but by and large the real enemy is not from without, it's from within.  I speak from experience, as I'm far harder on myself than I would ever dream to be on anyone else.  I see my own harshest critic every morning in the mirror, and it's not pretty.  It's as if I get to have the Drill Instructor from Full Metal Jacket subleasing a section of my brain.  Not pretty, but yet it's a struggle to silence him, let alone actually consider an eviction.

Life Snowballs
What you do when you are younger matters when you are older.  Make a habit of being kind in your 20's, 30's & 40's?  It seems to pay off when you are in your 50's.  Well at least as far as I can tell.  Granted that it's hard as heck to see this when you are younger, but trust me in that creating a positive reputation now always pays off later.

Fashion is Stupid
Sorry, it just plain is, provided that the purpose of "fashion" is to look like someone else.  There are times when I think that the very concept of fashion was created by uber-slick marketers, on a quest to solve the following question:  Now how do we get people to buy uncomfortable stuff that they really don't need?  By the way, if your definition of "fashion" is to be comfortable looking the way you want to look, well then that works for me.  If you want to look like a Kardashian?  Then I think you need medication.

We All Self-Medicate
I think we all self-medicate in one way or another.  It's just a question of picking a self-medication that does the least damage.  Heck, sometimes the medication is actually good for us.

Pity Beats Anger
There were times in the past where some folks would make me angry.  Yes, actually angry.  Now granted that I seem incapable of being angry at anyone or anything for much longer than an hour (with rare exception), but yes, anger is an emotion I am capable of feeling.  Yet, as I grow older, it's not as much anger as it is pity I feel for some folks.  I'm not angry at that loud, boorish man spouting his flat-Earth, no-nothing political nonsense; rather, I just have pity on him because some folks just just seem to be caught in a non-virtuous cycle of negativity.

Smiling on the Inside Matters (more than smiling on the outside)
I don't walk down the hallway with a smile on my face.  Why?  I just don't think that my face is built for grinning.  It doesn't seem to physically come naturally.  Often times though I am smiling on the inside.  Trust me, I am.  Give me that any day over someone who is smiling on the outside but not on the inside.

Music (and Art) Matter
Music and other forms of art...take your pick...just seem to have the ability to connect things inside your head that wouldn't be connected otherwise.  It's as if the sound waves have this magical ability to penetrate the most hardened thoughts, feelings and emotions.  In younger days I knew the feeling that I got from music, but I never made the connection about, well, the connection.  Chalk another one up for the wisdom that comes with age.  I do regret, by the way, not actually learning to become more musical as a younger person.  I suspect though that there is still time.

...and speaking of regrets...

Regrets are Stupid
Of course there are things in life that I regret.  However, I have learned to be very good at not being consumed by those feelings.  I can think of fewer things in life that are a bigger waste of mental calories than ruminating over the past.  Harry Truman was right...

"All my life, whenever it comes time to make a decision, I make it and forget about it."