Since our last printing, I turned another page on my calendar of life. I’ve survived 57 years on this planet — some of those years long, some of them hard and some of them that simply disappeared in their speed and with all of the craziness and drama with which they came. Like the ketchup, I’ve required 57 varieties of years in my life to get me to where I sit and type today.
The question I keep asking is this: “What, exactly, have I learned?” Long ago, although it seems like yesterday, I wrote a poem for an assignment in a literature class when I went back to college. The poem was titled “36 Years” and the last two lines were: “What have you learned? And what are you going to do with it?” Odd how I remember that. Odder still I keep being taught life lessons and wonder what I’m doing with them. Not odd: I was a horrible poet. Most odd: I still got an A.
Well, in this day and age, I’ve learned almost our entire world is online or in the cloud. Which means I’ve learned that someone somewhere will take 57, subtract it from 2018 and then use my name, job, business and other easily available online information to try to steal my identity and buy a bunch of crap. I’ve also learned my local bank and credit card folks are really, really good at catching these anomalies with my credit and shutting things down before it gets too out of hand. I’ve also learned to keep an ID insurance policy in place just in case.
I’ve learned that no matter what I do, my girls keep growing up. One of the life events that came on before I knew it in the past year was my oldest getting her license and driving on her own. Could it be that I just posted on social media a picture of her taking some of the driving time on our California road trip last spring? She’ll be a high school senior next year and then off to college. Well, she’s already in college, so I really need to enjoy this fading daddy-daughter time. That means my youngest will receive extra attention she probably doesn’t want. But that’s how life rolls when one is the youngest — a roll I know all too well. That said, my youngest is now in middle school and escaping the shadow of big sissy. More growing up I’m ill prepared to handle. Perhaps I should be doing more study in the daughter curriculum.
One lesson I continue to learn but have a difficult time putting into action is leaving my comfort zone of being alone and hiding out; getting out there and being the face of the paper, an active member of my community; and in doing something as simple as just putting myself out there in seeing friends, family and clients. The equation is simple, the more people I see and interact with, the better things will happen for me, my family, my business and my life. I kind of do this in spurts now instead of just during a general panic when things are going the wrong way. So there’s progress. But the learned, easy habit of hiding as my “go to” reaction when things get tough has been the hardest lifestyle to overcome. Learning that overcoming it is as simple as calling someone to start the day, having an early appointment or keeping a commitment to clubs, organizations and people (you know, like the two kiddos previously mentioned previously) has been key to slowly emerging from my self-imposed hibernation.
I’d be remiss to not mention politics in my lessons. After all, I sound off on them enough. So I’ve learned this: Republicans are bad, Democrats are worse. I’m sure some local Republicans just got something in a wad. But to be honest, I don’t care. That’s something I’ve learned and is most healthy. I don’t care for almost all the things elected officials do, whether they’re local, state or federal. The simple reason is almost everything they do isn’t good for me. What they want is not what I want. And they do favors for those who bug them the most. Do I dislike them? Nope. Do I dislike what they do? Almost every time. I’ve learned the invaluable lesson that government is a necessary evil, but should be limited to protecting the rights of the people, our borders and sovereignty along with the functions required and outlined by federal and state constitutions and local charters. I know that’s better than people getting elected and doing what they think is best. They are the most dangerous and know no party.
Lastly, I’ve learned most of the “isms” are bad. Socialism, collectivism, progressivism are nothing but communism in gentler forms. They all lead to a total loss of freedom for the individual and give total power to the select few. A couple of “isms” that are good include capitalism and federalism because these two are at the heart of the concept of individual, inalienable rights and freedom.
And rights and freedom are very, very good. Everyone needs this lesson.