In all seriousness, I don't feel very old, but this conversation did get me thinking about age, life cycles and life lessons. I'm creeping up towards thirty-six in a few months so this is "my year" in the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Snake. When each 12 year cycle comes around again you're supposed to have a turning point, a challenging but a hopefully fruitful year.
I assume that fruit is supposed to come mostly in the form of self-revelation and decisions made due to that new knowledge. In that spirit I'm writing a series of posts the rest of this year based on thirty-six important things I've learned in my time on Earth. Maybe some of them will turn out to be utter bunk. It's happened before. But they are the good and hard truths that I know now, and I can't ask more of myself than that.
- Be nice to new people. - Each time I have been new to a school, job, group or class I know the running commentary in my head has been, "oh my god everyone hates me, I might as well be wearing a sign that says 'dunce here', I'm a leper pariah, someone please JUST SAY HI." And you know, someone always says hi. It is such a beautiful gesture of kindness. Reaching out to a new person doesn't mean you have to fricking marry them. It might turn out that you won't really get along at all. But I've found that the person who does make that first welcoming gesture often turns out to be genuinely and endlessly wonderful, and I am blessed and thankful to know them not just on that first nerve-wracking day, but for years afterwards.
- When you’re writing an email, type in the address last. - It took me a ridiculously long time to figure this one out but it has saved me a world of pain and embarrasment. It's a little trickier when you have to answer an email, but you can get used to that, too. I usually will compose my reply in an empty email, cut and paste.
- Be careful what TV you let little kids watch. - The gods know I watched WAY too much television growing up, but I like to think that so much of it was PBS kids programming that it did me more good than harm. However, I have recently come to the full realization that if my parents hadn't let me watch Stephen King's Cujo and a shockingly vulgar Tom Hanks' movie called Bachelor Party at a tender and impressionable age, I would probably be significantly less fucked up right now.
- If you go on a celebrity's Instagram/Twitter/Facebook/etc. just to tell them they are ugly/fat/slutty/etc. you are a sad and terrible person. - I learned this from following Kim Kardashian on social media. I wouldn't say I'm fan at all (I started following her because she posts pictures of my friend Kanye) but the abuse she gets is appalling. People call her things I wouldn't think to call my worst enemy just because they don't like her blouse.
- Try every new food you encounter once. - Unless the smell of something is truly nauseating to you once it nears your face, come on - why not? The world is full of so many amazing tastes and textures, most of which we'll never get a chance to try. Who knows? You might discover something you LOVE.
I go home to the coast.
It starts to rain.
I paddle out on the water, alone.
Taste the salt and taste the pain,
I'm not thinking of you again.
Summer dies and swells rise,
the sun goes down in my eyes.
See this rolling wave
darkly coming to take me
And I've never been so alone.
And I've never been so alive.