Monday, June 05, 2006

Fifty Things I’ve Learned in Life

At just over a third of a century in age, I’ve picked up a few lessons though the years, little pearls of wisdom dug from the oysters of the everyday drudgery of life, nothing that will blow the doors off of the doctrines of philosophy or the orthodoxies of modern cultures, but perhaps there’s something here in this list that will better your life in general. If not, then congratulations, you really honestly do know everything; I hope we never meet, as I wouldn’t know what we’d talk about.

For the rest of you, take away from this list what you think you might need wherever life takes you. I’m not really sure where all of these gems came from, though a dozen or so are straight from the kind of experiences you are smacked in the head with on a random Thursday afternoon when you're least expecting it, like Moe in a "Three Stooges" skit… but don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell which ones I learned by doing; how about this first one, for example?

1. Always button up your pants and buckle your belt before you flush a public toilet. God knows what that thing is going to do once you pull the handle. You may have to bolt.
2. If you’re going on a date and you don’t have enough time to wash your car, only wash the passenger side…it’s the only side your date will see.
3. Never eat sour cream that’s been reheated in a microwave.
4. No matter how much you think something will cost, it’ll always cost more.
5. When hiking, always know what kind of bushes you’re walking in. Just in case, stock up on calamine lotion.
6. To keep your tools from rusting, shove them in and out of a bucket full of oily sand (use motor oil) a few times before putting them away.
7. Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something; then again, don’t do something just because someone said you couldn’t.
8. When grocery shopping, use coupons, a calculator and pay only with cash to stay within a certain budget. Never shop hungry.
9. The quickest way to end a door-to-door sales pitch is to say that, just yesterday, you bought whatever it is that they’re selling.
10. Turn into a spin, and don’t apply the brakes unless it is inevitable that you’re going to hit something. Then, just let go of the steering wheel, try to relax and wrap your arms around your head. You’ve got about a 10th of a second to do this, of course.
11. Little Debbie® “Cream Pie Cookies” taste better frozen. Twinkies® don’t.
12. The true measure of a person is what he does when nobody’s looking.
13. Nobody wins in a war of wits or in a fist fight. The champion is whoever can walk away the better man. Respect people’s opinions, even if they don’t respect yours.
14. Trust your family, everyone else are just strangers.
15. Put your keys and wallet (purse) in the same place every day and you’ll never lose them.
16. The majority of all things sent to you via email are either not true or are a scam to get your money.
17. Loyalty to your company, bank, grocery store and/or car manufacturer is a nostalgic reminiscent thing of the past. All four could drop you out of the blue for no reason what so ever, so why should you be so faithful?
18. Never nap longer than a half-hour.
19. Don’t avoid the responsibilities of daily life; it’s just practice for when it really counts.
20. Two dollar store-brand roasted-oats is made from the exact same materials as five-dollar Cheerios®. This example isn’t an anomaly in the food industry. Don’t pay for the brand.
21. Don’t work hard; work smart.
22. Don’t let a dog stare you down; it’s a power trip and you’ll be Beta Dog if you look away first. Stand up, walk toward him with authority, grab him by the collar and push down slightly until he looks away.
23. Having fish is fun for about a week. Then the tank gets dirty and they start to smell. The same goes for houseguests (thank you Mark Twain).
24. There is no miracle pill that will make you thin: A good diet and exercise is the key to losing weight; people tend to forget the exercise part.
25. People will think what they want to think, and there's nothing you can do to change that.
26. You can tell if a light bulb is burnt out by shaking it; if it rattles, it’s a goner. Of course, if it doesn’t add light to the room, it’s burnt out.
27. Prove that chivalry isn’t dead by doing all of those little things your dad taught you: opening doors, walking on the outside, offering your coat, etc; a real woman will notice and appreciate.
28. Don’t be trendy. The new fashion you just bought went out of style before it was put on the rack. Buy traditional and you’ll be able to wear it for years.
29. Shave after your shower, not before (or during).
30. The people of the world can be divided into five categories: Those who neither know nor care; those who do not know, but care very much; those who know and condemn; those who know and approve; and those who know and distinguish. Always be in that last group.
31. In traffic, the fast lane is the slowest lane on the freeway. Stay in the second lane from the right (to avoid cars just getting on).
32. No matter how good you think you are at something, there’s always someone out there who can do it better. Don’t get cocky and never gloat.
33. Shake well your mustard before squeezing.
34. Cake and pizza are both better on the second day.
35. The worst person you can lie to about anything is yourself. You’ve already been caught before you’ve said a single word.
36. Everything we do in life is because of these five things: love, shelter, food, warmth and fun. Everything else is a waste of time.
37. While standing, you can’t rotate your left wrist clockwise while, at the same time, rotating your right ankle counterclockwise. You can if you’re sitting though.
38. Before you vacuum, rake your carpet with a carpet rake, especially the high-traffic areas. You can find them at janitorial supply stores.
39. Floss only the teeth you want to keep.
40. Wash the insides of windows horizontally and the outsides vertically so you can tell what sides the streaks are on.
41. When on a business trip or vacation, eat the food a region is best known for: cheesesteak in Phili, mufalato in New Orleans, buffalo wings in Buffalo. They’re best known for a reason.
42. Always carry a camera with you wherever you go. Most of the best shots are accidental.
43. A hamburger from McDonald’s could contain the parts from over 50 cows.
44. Ask for help, nobody will think less of you.
45. If you’re in a position of authority, never say “I don’t know” to a subordinate.
46. Don’t buy expensive wine because it is expensive. Price and taste are opposite theories of wine appreciation.
47. The more money you make, the more you will spend, so always pretend you didn’t get that raise by hiding it in a savings account via automatic deposit through your employer. You’ll never miss it. And if you owe money to a relative, pay them first before you pay your bills.
48. The more respect you demand or think you deserve, the less you'll get.
49. A sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it.
50. Find one thing that you enjoy and do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it or not, enjoying the experience is sometimes the real reward.

Well, there you have it, most of what I didn’t learn in life from a textbook I can sum up in 50 bullet points that would seem quite at home on cocktail napkins at a senior rec center in Iowa, little pills of life to swallow so they can do their magic. Well, it would seem that way anyway. In reality, often used knowledge that makes you a better person doesn’t come in the form of random wisdom on some remote list you find on the Internet, it comes from common sense, a developed ethical standard and an elevated set of values you’ve cultivated throughout your life. Without these things, you're just drifting from one problem and obstacle to another without focus, meaning or goals.

Okay, so why is there only 50 you ask? Well, I’m only 33. That’s all I’ve learned about life so far, but stick around. When I’m 66, I’m sure I’ll have a 100 for you, unless, of course, if knowledge is geometric. Then again, at 66, I might start losing information.

Until next time, remember this: If you do the right thing, you’ll never be wrong regardless of the outcome. That means that you might lose the game but nobody can ever say that you were cheating (I guess that's 51).

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