An Open Book: If your life were a book, what would the parts or chapters be titled?
Here’s the problem, if my life were an open book, someone would close the book, put it back on the shelf, and no one would ever open it again. It’s really hard for me to imagine any writer good enough to make my life into an interesting story, and beside, any writer that good usually lies. The first draft of the outline would look like this:
1. The Pre-School Years.
2. Elementary School
3. High School
5. The Army
6. Graduate School and Courtship
7. Marriage and First Job
8. The Family Years
9. The Empty Nest
Now I would not have you believe that it’s all been boring, or miserable, or anything like that. Most of it has gone pretty well, but cozy satisfaction is not interesting to read about. It lacks a dramatic arc. Do you want me to write a three page anecdote about my wife and myself sitting on the couch doing crossword puzzles. No, you don’t.
I was thinking that since I’m older that most of my readers, I might offer a few life lessons, things I’ve learned through the years, that probably no one has told you.
1. If you are in the job market, and a prospective employer says he’ll call you back, don’t hang around waiting for the call. It’s hard on the nerves, and if he doesn’t call back in a couple minutes, he probably won’t call back in the next hour. And he won’t hold it against you if you’re not there. Go do something useful or fun.
2. If you are involved with a project and tasks are being handed out, volunteer early for the one you most prefer. If you wait, hoping to get away with no task, you will probably get stuck with the task no one (including you) wants.
3. If you have a spouse or long-time lover, don’t be coy about sex.
4. Men’s shirts cost more than $10.00.
5. You can’t keep up. One of my best never-to-be-written book ideas was entitled “What are you doing on Saturday?” The idea was to go through all the rooms in the house and detail the recommended maintenance tasks for each appliance and system. I mean things like putting vinegar through the coffeemaker, vacuuming the dust off the coils behind the refrigerator, flushing your hot water heater. Nobody does them all. You can’t. (This was inspired by This Old House. I noticed how all the vendors of fancy toys said “Just (do something) every other month.”)
6. You can’t gain 10 pounds in a day any more than you can lose 10 pounds in a day.
7. The world is much more complicated that you think. Unfortunately, it’s much more complicated than most of our elected representatives think, which is one reason that so many laws are badly written.
8. The other guy isn’t paying attention to your problem.
9. Anyone can walk into a doctor’s office and walk out with a life-threatening disease.
10. Your body and your unconscious know lots of things that your conscious mind doesn’t.