I have the immense good fortune to be part of a curious fellowship of people of all ages, nationalities, socio-economic levels, races, and cultures. It’s not the kind of club that anyone wants to join but here we are and because of my long-standing membership in this outfit I count among my close friends people who are much younger than myself. Yes, I run around with 20-year-olds as well as 80-year-olds and everything in between.
Over and over I find myself wanting to clue these younger friends in to some important stuff they’re either unaware of or are ignoring (can’t blame them, I would if I could). So I’ll write some of these things and let the fates take it from there. And then I’ll make sure I’m paying closer attention to the 80-year-olds. Turns out they know what they’re talking about.
If anyone forwarded this memo to me when I was 19, I expect I ignored it. I’m forwarding it to you and fully expect that you’ll do the same thing. Who cares about this tedious crap anyway? But consider tucking these bits of information away for future use. You may find them helpful someday.
Everything and everyone in your life right now is going to go away. And I’m really talking everything. Those strong legs that catapult you up stairs without a thought and the lungs that easily pull in all the air you need? Temporary. Sleeping the night through after having another satisfying orgasm? Yeah, no. Not a given. That bestie who’s got your back no matter what? Hard to believe but they, too, are going to fade away. Or it could be you that does the fading. Either way, be prepared.
Actually, no one is ever prepared for any of this. Who am I kidding? Even so, imagine that what you’re reading here is a mitzvah from your future, wiser self.
I know it’s almost impossible to picture yourself as having survived forty or fifty years of this madness, but chances are pretty good that you will. And when you have, take a moment to scoop up that younger, sillier, looser version of yourself and give that goofball a hug. The goofball needs it.
So much of the anguish I’ve suffered in my life was completely unnecessary and I didn’t realize it. You may not either.
For example, every dumb thing I said or did kicked me into desperate black spirals of shame and self-loathing that were 100% useless. They didn’t help me avoid other mistakes and they didn’t make me a better person. About the best I can say is that they provided me with this opportunity to tell you not to bother feeling like garbage about yourself over whatever idiot thing that just came out of your mouth. Remember, hug the goofball and move on.
Drinking the poison
There’s this thing I used to do — ok, and still do occasionally — where I deliberately indulge in dark meanness lasered in on that nimrod who did whatever to infuriate me. This is called drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die. Guess how often the other guy dies.
Learning to shrug that stupid stuff off has probably added another decade to my life. If I’d learned it earlier, like you’re doing now (right?), I’d probably be on my way to living 147 years.
Pro tip: You can’t change them. None of them. Not even the ones that really need to change. Especially them! You may be starting out in a profession in which you’re charged with the responsibility of changing people. Maybe you’re a social worker or a teacher or a therapist in training. My own experience in therapy with an excellent professional, btw, was that she didn’t try to get me to change. She just held my hand and shone a bit of light on the path we were taking together.
It gets worse: you also can’t change your closest friends or even your partner! If it helps, they can’t change you either so there’s that.
Then there’s that one person who doesn’t laugh at your jokes or walks away when you join the circle. What is their problem? Here’s a hint: it’s not your business. I know, I know. I’ve squandered way too many hours trying to woo that one person who remains cool towards me while I’ve been surrounded by loving supportive friends…who I ignore, btw.
You do that too? Yeah, I figured.
About those hugs
Keep ’em coming. The goofball’s going to need all the patience, love, compassion, and support you can summon. I mean, of course, that you are going to need all that. Sure, movies and top ten hits — are those even still a thing? — have been telling you for your entire life that there’s that special someone just waiting to complete you. Your soul mate. Your other half. That one special person who will be there for you when others let you down (God, I can hear the violins already).
Don’t count on that happening.
In fact, count on that not happening. Sure, you’re quite likely to fall in love or maybe you’re already swapping spit with that soul mate. Enjoy! But don’t look for that person to miraculously fix you (insider tip: you don’t need to be fixed, you’re not broken). You’re not broken, you’re not incomplete, you’re not unfulfilled. You’re young and confused in a world that’s never made sense to even the wisest of us. So are all the other young people no matter how well they hide it.
Oh hell, what am I talking about? We’re all faking it like crazy.
Nice segue, huh?
A sure way to keep yourself miserable is to compare your insides with anyone else’s outsides. Disaster! You are surrounded by goofballs and not all of them understand the importance of those hugs. But a whole lot of them do understand the importance of putting up a good front. Maybe you do, too (I never did but that’s ancient history).
Behind that got-it-together look is another goofball.
This is not a comprehensive memo by any means. In fact, I’m pretty confident that you could add to it. Clue me in! What am I missing here? My 80-year-olds have a lot to offer but I keep discovering that my younger friends are no slouches in the wisdom department. Remember, we may all be goofballs but we’re also in this together.
If it’s got a name, someone’s done it. That’s all the good news I can muster today. Tomorrow? We’ll see.
Pass it on.
© Remington Write 2020. All Rights Reserved.