I aspire to always be learning and observing, I think it’s neglected human trait these days. There are a lot of little lessons I think about frequently that I’d try to pass along to a child if I changed my steadfast life plan and had one.
Might as well go for broke
I’d say my first lesson in pragmatism came when I used my allowance to buy a 12-pack of Coca-cola. I was super young and therefore immune to anything unhealthy so I blasted through it in about a week and when I was down to my last one I took a moment to reflect. “If I don’t drink that one because it’s the last one that’s the same as not having any. Then next time when I get down to two left I won’t be able to drink the second last one because after that I’d have one left and it would be this paralyzing cycle.” It’s how I discovered catch-22s and developed a go-for-broke attitude.
Zooey Deschanel said “I’m tired of being clever, everybody’s clever these days.”
My mom and I were getting ready to play cards, war specifically, with two decks of cards. She took one and took the other to make sure they were both full. Mom just started counting them while I thought I would be clever and put them down in piles by suit thinking I’d know what if any were missing. Well she finished way before me and it turned out none were missing. I realize this is a miniscule event I’m recounting but my (probably) eight year old brain really locked on to that moment and I think about it whenever I’m solving problems to this day. I ask myself if I’m trying to solve problems I don’t know I have, and I don’t try and do everything the “clever” way, simple is good. I see so many young men trying to reinvent the wheel in everything they do just to feed their ego and often leaves them looking like an idiot.
Don’t ruin your own games
I had a pal named Nick who liked to play chess, Nick was actually really good. I am not. I’ve always thought I should be the type to be good at chess but I am not. So Nick beat me every time we played except once. This didn’t bother me, I thought of it as good practice, but it drove Nick crazy, because it was bad practice. Nick had always wanted to play the Chinese game of Go so he suggested we start playing that and therefore we’d learn together and it would be fun for both of us. He bought a board, we played a game as equal, it was fun. Then Nick went home and researched Go strategies. He creamed me when played again the next day. It drove Nick crazy. Lesson: Kids, enjoy the process or it will spoil the result.
Public means public
The facebook status of a female friend said “Caught some guy taking my picture on the street without my permission, hey gross perv go jerk off to someone else!” Now here’s your lesson in pragmatism. Let’s completely buy-in to her notion here, let’s take for granted there’s a guy, who doesn’t know about internet porn, walking around on the street clearly taking pictures of fully clothed woman for no artistic purpose but solely for masturbatory reason. Even in that extreme case: tell me what the harm is to you. Cameras do not steal souls and someone without a camera is just as capable of thinking about you during self-gratification so be honest, you’re upset someone took a picture of you when you weren’t ready and you’re worried it looks bad and again… so what? This isn’t even a case of get-over-yourself this is a case of assume-everyone-else-is-over-you. and check out thelivingbreathingstreet.com for some great Calgary street photography.
The story of Underfoot
I worked with a guy a long time that I still think about, we called him Underfoot. I liked to say he was helpful not useful. Nice guy, and he wanted to be good at his job but if someone wasn’t telling him exactly what to do he’d do nothing, make things worse, or hurt himself. In my job right now I have someone who constantly tries to help me with what I’m working on rather than being useful and doing the other things that need to be done simultaneously. Don’t get me started… And don’t be an Underfoot, if you want to help ask how best to and if someone says the most helpful thing you can do is shut up and go away take the hint.
Sports metaphors, we all love them
I never play sports but I still use sports metaphors all the time.
1) In the boxing ring, the things you do in the first round may win or lose the fight but that doesn’t mean you should be going for a knock out.
2) If the quarterback runs when you think he should have passed, a good team mate isn’t going to fumble the next pass to punish him.
One last piece of advice
It’s easy to think that if you never try you never fail. My biggest fear once was failing as musician and winding up doing dead end cooking jobs my whole life and that fear stopped me from really trying to be a musician. I was scaring myself into doing exactly what I didn’t want to do but subconsciously we all choose to live a shitty life with hope rather than test that hope and lose it. The reason people constantly buy lottery tickets is the week of imagining they win and everything changes, it gets them through years. The thing to remember is that it’s better to test a hope, lose it, and find a new hope (which humans always will) than to stay stuck in one stage of your life forever. and people will remember you as a wonderful person if you give your life to what you love and fail more than if you do what’s safe, easy, or normal. Be yourself ’cause it’s the only self you’re gonna get and 80+ years is a long time to pretend to be something you’re not.