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As you read this, as I’m now 40 years and however many days old. I made my debut in the Bronx at 2:04am on that United Nations Day of 1978. I’m still grappling with the dual nature of being on the cusp of Libra and Scorpio, which seems to suit me (I’m also born in the Year of the Horse, in case any fellow Horse babies of the Chinese Zodiac are reading this).
Along the way, from my journeys spanning a backyard in Mamaroneck to the backroads of Mongolia, here are a few things I’ve picked up:
Be nice to people.
Don’t be a jerk.
Spend time with people you love.
Or at least people you like.
Pursue ideas just because.
Once in awhile, or more, thank others on paper. Actual paper.
Don’t beat yourself up over stupid little things. You won’t remember most of them, and it’s not worth the angst.
Beat yourself up over a few of the bigger ones if it’ll help you not repeat a mistake.
Fight fire with a smile, or even a hug. As the headmaster of my daughter’s pre-school likes to say, “They’re not giving you a hard time. They’re having a hard time.”
Leave every room a bit cleaner or better than the way you found it when you entered.
Write stuff down. You’ll forget it otherwise.
If you’re a parent, write stuff down for your kids. They won’t even remember it in the first place, especially from the early years.
Play the long game.
Make time to breathe and play.
Don’t always let kids win.
Usually though, help kids win.
Eat dessert first. Sometimes.
Or more than sometimes.
Views from the tallest towers or vantage points are almost always underwhelming. Never climb a tower for the views.
It still feels good to get to the top. Climb a tower for the climb.
Get in over your head.
But be honest about it – know that you’re in over your head.
It’s really hard to beat a Toll House cookie. Don’t try too hard.
Make, eat, and do what you love.
Fear is a really bad reason not to do something.
Convention is a really bad reason not to do something.
Periodically surprise yourself and the people who know you best (in some positive way).
If you returned somewhere – a building, a restaurant, a shop – ask people you see a second time their name. Try to remember it in case you’re back there a third time.
Really, even if you don’t feel like it, or feel that they deserve it, be nice.
Always carry a pen. Paper usually helps too.
Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answers to.
Sleep always wins.
Embrace things you loved at age 5 or 10 or 20. You don’t always have to change. Love consistency.
If the floor looks clean enough, ignore the 5-second rule.
Laugh more. And loud.
Laugh at and with yourself.
Laugh with others (never at).
Enjoy doing something so much that you lose track of things. Like how many items are on your list.
Get to the source.
Admit when it’s your fault.
Say you’re sorry.
Always pad a few extra minutes. Or more.
Check your spelling.
Slow down at a yellow light. A green light is coming.
So that’s what I’ve been making of myself the past 40 years, or a taste of it. And yes, the list is longer than 40 items; I lost track along the way. My cinema professor at Binghamton, Ken Jacobs, liked to say, “Get lost, and get lost again” – words to live by.
That’s all for now. What are you making of yourself?
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