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Friday, February 11

Hey Jude

When my little brother Julian graduated from high school last summer, I wanted to give him some advice that helped me in college.

Not stuff like avoid 7:30 classes, which I felt was obvious. But apparently not, because he signed up for one and excessive absences dropped his grade to an F and caused my dad to drop him from the payroll. So now he’s washing dishes and thinking about a job at a factory making pasta outside of town.

Not seeing the future, my original advice was a summary of Aristotle’s Twelve Virtues. But when my sister read it, she said it was too abstract. So while flying back to Iowa, I swung by the airport bookstore and bought a delightful little gem called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” It’s so small it can fit in your pocket. The advice seemed pretty decent. I figured I could give him my own version of pithy advice.

This is what I gave him:

  1. Trust no one. Everyone is misinformed, misguided, misunderstood, or a combination of the three. All information is suspect.
  2. Trust everyone. Despite being is misinformed, misguided and misunderstood, most people don’t mean any harm. Be open and friendly. Don’t treat people with suspicion.
  3. Vary your sources. The best way to avoid being misinformed and misguided is to learn from all kinds of sources and see which ones seem reasonable when compared with the others.
  4. Intermingle amongst cliques. The best way to avoid being misunderstood is to hang out with all kinds of people. Become friends with people you don’t immediately like. You’ll discover they’re interesting and they challenge assumptions you never thought about. You’ll be surprised to find that they have good traits you can use to improve yourself.
  5. Trust no one. If people start asking things of you; if they ask for your money, your possessions, your time or your sympathy they’d better be good friends. Your sympathy is the most valuable thing you can give someone. If someone’s asking for it, alarm bells should start ringing. Get the hell out.
  6. Love is not enough to make a relationship work. Love’s there in every good relationship, but it’s also there in lots of abusive, shitty relationships. If things aren’t working, and you’re spending a lot of time fighting and angry, move on. It’ll feel like the world’s falling apart and you’ll want to die. But it will get better, and you’ll find someone new.
  7. Human beings are insecure. Every one of us feels, on some level, in some situation, incompetent. Confidence does not mean you believe you’re perfect. It means knowing you’re doing your best and working to become better than you currently are.
  8. Being right all the time makes you an asshole.
  9. The two most courageous statements people can ever make are “I don’t know,” and “I need help.” Making those two statements at the right moments can make you a hero and keep you out of immeasurable trouble.
  10. The future is never as good or as bad as it looks. Don’t get too worked up about things before they happen. When budgeting, always double the estimated cost. When traveling, pack half of what you expect to wear. (except with underwear and socks)
  11. 90% of life is just showing up. (Not mine, but very true)
  12. Your Character is best demonstrated when you lose. Dealing with defeat graciously will garner you more admiration than winning ever could--but it has to be sincere. Obviously false graciousness is worse than poor sportsmanship.
  13. If you say something, mean it. If you promise something, do it. Don’t allow yourself to be described as two-faced or dishonest.
  14. Sometimes it’s easier to do something than explain why you shouldn’t have to do it. (That’s from Grandpa.)
  15. If you want something to never happen, tell someone to do it “whenever they have the time.” No one ever has the time. (That’s from Grandpa, also.)
  16. What’s obvious is not always what’s important. What’s important is not always what’s obvious. (Not mine, but also true, and not obvious.)

4 Comments:

2/11/2005
Blogger Molly writes:

Excellent! I especially like the part about confidence. Thanks for the pick-me-up.

 


2/11/2005
Blogger Captain 43 writes:

does your Grampa have a blog of advice

 


2/12/2005
Anonymous Anonymous writes:

My mom wouldn't let me read Don't Sweat the Small Stuff when I was in high school because she said I already didn't care enough.

I like the 90% rule, 90% of the time all I really do is show up.

-Alex

 


2/13/2005
Anonymous Anonymous writes:

I like.

Horton

 


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