I turned 50 in the summer of 2013. It’s a milestone about which I have mixed emotions.
On the one hand, I’m very happy—and mildly surprised—to have made it to 50, considering some of the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” actions of my youth. I don’t have any serious medical problems, I still have all of my major body parts intact and all of my hair, although there’s a little more beach and a little less waves these days, I’m still fairly clear-headed (of course, opinions vary), and it’s definitely better than the alternative.
On the other hand, my picture of my life at 50 from when I was in my twenties is much different than the reality. I remember—like most twenty-somethings, I assume—imagining myself making six figures and living in a small mansion by now, having all the nice toys and latest gadgets without worrying about how I was going to pay for them. Then again, I was in a rock band in my twenties, and that’s kind of the standard issue dream for rock musicians.
***Pick up your instrument, hair spray, and dreams at the door.***
Overall though, although I haven’t belted out Billy Idol, ZZ Top, or Mellencamp on stage in many, many years, I really can’t complain. I live in a nice home and I’ve got a wonderful family. I’ve got a steady job and a car that gets me back and forth to a job that, while it’s not my dream of writing for a living, at least pays the bills.
One thing I do know is that I’m a smarter man than I was in my twenties. Not necessarily smart as in I know all about the latest trends and technologies, but smarter about life in general. It’s amusing to me, in a frustrating sort of way, as I try to impart some of my years of wisdom to my two children—who totally know more about how the world works than I do—to note that, as they stare at me with glazed over expressions, I know that I looked at my own parents with the exact same feigned interest as they tried to help me avoid the potholes they knew I would be running over in the road of life.
So, knowing my teenage (or twenty-something) self wouldn’t listen any more than my own teenagers do, no matter how well they fake it, here’s what I’d tell myself if I had a time machine:
(Some of these may be expanded upon in future rants…err…posts.)
- Relax. Some things really aren’t worth stressing about.
- Somebody almost always has it worse than you.
- Respect others the same way you want them to respect you.
- Just because someone else doesn’t follow #3, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
- The only person whose actions (and reactions) you can control is yourself.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Whatever you do, try to do it the best you can. Your efforts reflect your character.
- If you say you’re going to do something, do it. You’ll be remembered for your actions, not your words.
- Never make a promise unless you’re absolutely sure you can keep it.
- Life isn’t always fair. Deal with it.
I’d say I wish someone would have told me this stuff when I was younger, but somebody probably did, and I just didn’t pay attention. Guess that’s another Circle of Life thing, eh? I’m sure my kids will be saying the same things to their children years from now. And if I’m around to hear it, I’m just going to laugh, and laugh, and laugh…