@40 ~ things I’ve learned and am still learning

In fourteen days, I will be forty. Here are forty little nuggets of knowledge I’ve picked up over the past four decades. Of course these are mine and are not intended for everyone . . . which leads to the first item on my list:

  1. Not everyone will like you, and that’s ok that’s GOOD! I don’t WANT everyone to like me because that would mean I was being who they want to see and not being myself. Authenticity is more rewarding than adulation.
  2. Revulsion is the undercurrent of both derision and pity. While derision is openly hostile, pity is more dangerous because it’s insidious and the bearer oblivious to the harm in it. Empathy and sympathy are much better than pity, which is really just a dismissive form of apathy.
  3. You can spend your entire life trying to assess another person’s intent or the cause of an effect, but it doesn’t matter. Whether harm done was intentional or not, harm was done. Accepting that is the first step to putting it in the past for both parties.
  4. What-ifs are dangerous and what should-have-beens are daggers that destroy what is. The past only holds footprints and impossibilities, and possibilities only exist in the future.
  5. Regrets are a crucial part of the landscape of the soul, but we should not be riddled with regrets. It’s the difference between a gentle slope and a road so full of pot holes that it’s impassable. I regret not going to Germany because I didn’t want to be a quitter in high school. I should have quit my obligation in a club and gone to Germany because for the club I spent days in hotel conference rooms . . . I’ve done that a lot in the last 40 years, but I’ve only been to Europe once. Regrets are good if we learn from them, not if we collapse into them.
  6. Facts are facts, but the truth is how we focus our telescope to the past. Not everyone’s eyes see the same distance, and what might be a perfect view for one person is a blur to another. Also, the distance we travel forces some adjustment on the lens through which we see our past.
  7. An abundance of compassion is required to fuel sincere forgiveness, especially forgiveness for oneself.
  8. There is neither risk nor reward in cynicism. Love and hope require a substantial risk to the heart, but are the only investments that ever really pay off.
  9. The best confidence comes not from what we know but from accepting how vast is the ocean of things we know not.
  10. Fighting suffering is the same as fighting water. The water always wins, and we just wear ourselves out and drown in sorrow. When we find ourselves in choppy waters, it’s probably best to let go, float, and just feel what we will. We’re no less wet drowning than floating, either way the sea will move as it will.
  11. While it would have been upsetting for my kids to see me cry when they were very small, now it’s best that they see it once in a while so they know crying is OK. Like I’ve always told my children, crying is like going potty, if you don’t let it out it will make you sick.
  12. The internet is chock full of things we’re not supposed to say, but one of my regrets is not saying something when a friend was in pain. So, now I say this, “I don’t want to pry into your personal business, but I understand this is a difficult situation and I am here for you.” That’s it. Something is better than silence. We suffer more in silence.
  13. The greatest power comes not from being special or unique, but from knowing I am neither. Not being set apart brings me closer to others.
  14. I am never the least important part of any equation, and I’m not afraid to walk away from something that’s not good for me.
  15. I deserve a good night’s sleep, every night.
  16. The house will never stay clean, so it’s best to set my priorities and reset my expectations.
  17. I should learn to cook even though I have someone who will gladly do it for me.
  18. Life is generally better with a dog.
  19. If patience is a virtue I’ve lacked for forty years, it’s not likely that I’ll develop it now, but I’ll keep trying.
  20. Coworkers can become life-long friends but work is temporary.
  21. Creating new traditions makes the passage of time more meaningful.
  22. Truly respecting the world comes from knowing where your feet fall and where your nose belongs.
  23. It’s really hard, but not impossible, to go back once you’ve owned a car with heated seats.
  24. Don’t say things you don’t mean.
  25. Mother like you mean it.
  26. If they’re comfortable, buy those shoes!
  27. Sunblock in necessary, even if you’re an indoor cat.
  28. Life is not a race or a competition. It’s just life and you only get so much, so why rush?
  29. There is not one minute of television that I would regret missing when I die (or even now). But Breaking Bad is really good.
  30. When traveling, always eat where the locals go.
  31. If I were meant to be a judge, I would have a black robe not a fluffy white one.
  32. Take care of your body, eventually it stops bouncing back like it once did.
  33. If faced with a Hostess cupcake, trade up for a Whole Foods cupcake. The nicer cupcake costs more and is harder to come by, thus better but fewer cupcakes.
  34. More art, more music, more beauty, more love, more hugs. These things cannot be had in excess, so get ’em while you can.
  35. Retry foods you hated when you were a kid (red peppers and mayo), but it’s still ok to hate some (yellow mustard and onions).
  36. Your children will seem to grow up faster than you did because time compresses as we age.
  37. Stand up for what is right, even if you’re the only one not sitting.
  38. I’m not afraid to die and move on, but I’m not ready to leave just yet.
  39. Getting older is a blessing not a burden.
  40. I’m excited that every year I learn and relearn, and I’m excited that I’m still so excited to see another birthday! Happy birthday to me! In two weeks . . . told you I wasn’t patient.

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