Yesterday was my 40th birthday, so I sat down to write a list of 40 random things I’ve learned over these 40 years. Here’s my list; feel free to list your own in comments.
1. Babies are cute; kids are mean.
2. Your childhood will haunt you if you live long enough.
3. People are judgmental until they get to know you. Then they’re biased.
4. Brachiating is a good skill to master, literally and metaphorically speaking.
5. “Laugh a lot” is good advice, but easier said than done.
6. Avoid overuse of superlatives if you want to be taken seriously.
7. The future is uncertain.
8. Still, it’s best to plan ahead. Start young.
9. A hometown is often a hurdle to adulthood.
10. Naiveté is not cute; it’s a disadvantage.
11. There is no glass.
12. There is a spoon. Spoons, actually. They’re silver and only a few of us get one.
13. Politics is a sham unless you’re powerful.
14. Most of us are not powerful.
15. Paying attention brings with it an awareness of stupidity, even your own.
16. Ask questions.
17. Learn how to find the answers to some of your own questions.
18. Critical thinking is great, but ultimately useless unless you’re solving a problem or inventing something.
19. Naval gazing and drug addiction have a lot in common.
20. The world would be better off without the concept of “cool.”
21. Paper money does grow on trees.
22. There are no less than seven economic classes in the United States.
23. We are taught morals according to our economic class.
24. Shrewdness will carry you further in life than earnestness.
25. Don’t smoke. Trust me on this.
26. Take care of your teeth and your feet.
27. Everything in moderation. (Damn you, Mom!)
28. Real friends are hard to find.
29. Cynicism is overrated.
30. A good romantic match is worth waiting for.
31. Save the money; elope.
32. Proper punctuation seasons a language soup.
33. It’s a good idea to experiment sexually, but sexual promiscuity is a waste of time.
34. Put off childbearing; nobody was ever delighted to have a baby too young, at least not for long.
35. Graduating college is depressing. A support group for recovering existentialists is recommended.
36. Defensiveness and arrogance are generally apparent from the outside.
37. People are bored by your dreams and what you watch on television. They are not suitable topics for conversation.
38. Some people you meet will invest in your failure. It’s just who they are. Watch for them.
39. Our capacity for spontaneous joy may recede as we age, but the payoff—emotional stability—is worth it.
40. Cats rule.