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I’ve lived almost 15,000 days and here’s what I’ve learned

Posted on 29 July 2015 by admin

all the things

There are plenty of lists out there which humorously lament the accumulation of decades under our belts, most of which certainly include riffs about how we try all the diets in our 30s and miss all the parties because everyone else seems to be married with children.

This isn’t that list.

1. Try often to take the scenic route even if it adds time. Bottom line, enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

2. Question authority, but equally, know when to respect authority.

3. Emotion has its place. Don’t be controlled by emotions, but don’t let apathy rule either. Sometimes I need to be angry, or dizzy with joy and consumed with ecstasy. Don’t hold back when it comes time. I found a quote in high school that is my mantra: The deeper sorrow carves into our hearts, the more joy it can contain.

4. Trust my instincts. I had to spend some time focusing on the built-in navigation system, but it rarely fails. 

5. Have beliefs and stand up for those beliefs.

6. I wasn’t allowed much sugar, junk food or television as a kid. I hated it then, but appreciate it now. I enjoy being outdoors and don’t eat a lot of junk food. Thanks, Mom.

7. The heartbreak of a friend who turns out to be fake is worse than many a breakup, and the pain will last longer.

8. I need a moral compass to get me through various scenarios, to point me in the right direction. I don’t want to get stuck holding an unwieldy anchor of beliefs. Don’t be too polarizing, and don’t be too blind.

9. The idea that we often work more than we get to spend time with our families and friends is insane.

10. Speaking of work, in my 25 years of working, I have found most people don’t deserve a management role. I heard it called the Peter Principle; the idea that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Therefore a lot of people get to the top because it seemed like the next step, but wasn’t necessarily the best step. That means we get a lot of people clinging to the top, knowing inside they don’t deserve their position. When their drama manifests, we can’t let those people keep us down.

11. Don’t create extra drama, but don’t avoid confrontation if it is in the interest of appropriately sticking up for myself, or someone who can’t defend themselves. 

12. Avoid people creating unnecessary tension between other people. More often than not, this comes from a place of insecurity.

13. I sit around a lot more hoping a party will happen and that no one will think I’m weird for wanting to have a party and dance at midnight and have excited, tangential conversations.

14. People are way more obsessed with age than they are accomplishments, or free thinking, or any number of things. Don’t listen to these people.The most important “age appropriate” thing I need to do is to make financial investment decisions.

15. Stay friends with ex-lovers. Or at least date people you will miss if you can’t be friends. We should really, genuinely like someone with whom we chose to share that level of intimacy. 

16. The things that bring passion and excitement into our lives often bring us our greatest trials.

17. Keep promises. Follow through shows respect and makes people feel good.

18. Have regrets. First of all, it’s unhealthy to repress thoughts. I’m trying to tell myself something if I feel a regret, and I can likely learn from it down the road.

19. Let go of people who don’t like me, instead of trying to change their mind.

20. Listen to myself. If I tell myself, for example, that I’m too fat – then either I need to lose weight, or learn to accept myself more. Or tell myself “I’m going to be healthy,” – something to strive towards and practice daily.

21. Make relationships with parents. Forgive them. Take it easy on myself when I realize I’ve become them – or some parts of me have at least.

22. We don’t have the metabolism that forgave junk food when we hit our mid-30s. It is far easier to stay in shape and be healthy all along than to try and catch up later.

23. A majority of how we’ve learned to eat, and take care of ourselves is based on ideas passed down to us, or ideas that are myopic and reflect trends, not actual science or true health. At some point, or multiple points, it’s best to scrutinize everything we’ve learned along the way, and eliminate the things that no longer resonate.

24. It’s ok to have a really good meltdown; when it’s all said and done, it showed me who mattered based on who was still there. And it showed me things about myself that I can improve.

25. Peace is something we are responsible for creating and fostering. It’s one of the most subjective words in our modern vocabulary – and quite possibly therefore one of the hardest things to implement. Yet, ironically it’s just become a symbol that you see everywhere.

26. As you get older, things take on a more dire feeling, yet most of what you do is half as dangerous as what you did when you were younger. “Am I getting text neck,” versus “How did I drive home while puking out the window?” or “How can I hitchhike cross country?”

27. You start caring about sunscreen and moisturizer and things your girlfriends have been using for decades.

28. Try new food. Are you scared of mushrooms? Are you scared of tofu? But you don’t mind eating a candy bar that has 52 ingredients? Are you kidding me?

29. To try and describe things without using adjectives that define their race, class, color or gender. As open-minded as I think I may be, I have my own ways of perpetuating the institutionalized system of which I am a part.

30. Care about things that matter. Not what someone wore, but what did they read, what have they seen in life, what music do they love, how is their family, what are their accomplishments?

31. Seek people based on the friendships they have and how they value them, and based on how deeply a person is willing to share.

32. I still believe most of the things I talked about in my 20s, but I would express those thoughts in completely different ways now.

33. Ask people better questions, and actually care about their responses.

34. We can spend a lot of time on social media not feeling like we’ve even made a drop in the bucket, and then one day we may feel like our words were a tsunami. I have learned to me more mindful of what I say on social media. Think of it as “Would I want 200,000 people to read and discuss that?” or “Will 200,000 people get my original point?”

35. Travel more. People will say they don’t have money to travel, and then go to Target and drop $100 on meaningless crap. 

36. Periodically explore my town like I was a tourist.

37. There is a whole series of stuff I could attribute to the “Dead Lessons.” For example, in 1993 I bought a van for $60 in food stamps and later sold it in cash to a guy who went by the name “Elijah Monkey Plant.” On the way to the Las Vegas Grateful Dead shows, he wouldn’t let me eat cream cheese in my own van – or drive it either. Firstly, don’t be so righteous that you push your food beliefs on people. Secondly, don’t name yourself Elijah Monkey Plant. Thirdly, have a story like this to share down the road.

38. Another Dead lesson. A lot of people sold beer at Dead shows. I sold beer too — $5 Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stouts. I was the only one that stood on the cooler, balanced on a leg, with the beer bottle on my head. Stand out from the crowd.

39. I dropped out of college after meeting some guys at a party in 1993. I left on spring tour with them that year. We have to make time for adventures in this short lifetime. I went on to later get a master’s degree, but Jerry Garcia died two years after my 1993 decision. Had I waited, I never would have had the same chances.

40. The world is a very interconnected place. Don’t burn bridges with people, because their sister will wind up being your boss.

41. We have to learn how to push ourselves as we get older, in ways other than professionally. When we were young we pushed ourselves by trying new things, meeting new people, going to new places, and being uncomfortable. When we get older, it is really easy to insulate ourselves. We spend more time at work, go out less, meet less new people, spend more time with only the family and have more established comforts. That insulation could be keeping us from growing. 

42. There are people that are so much more interesting than me. I will never stop looking for them. It will make me that much more interesting too, to have such experiences.

43. We can let our hearts break over and over again to discover how much capacity we have to feel.

44. Learn to live for the nights when I find myself staying up late having a conversation, or just staring at the moon and feeling inspired. Even if it means I’m a little tired the next day, I will spend more of my life “awake” for just trying to live life.

45. Be humble. Realize there are people who probably know way more than us and try to learn from them. We won’t always learn the most by listening. Sometimes we learn by refusing to listen.

But in this case, thanks for listening.

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