Remember when old people used to give you advice?
I certainly do.
When I was young, I dismissed much of that as poppycock – but I was an entitled little prick back then.
It’s not that I was arrogant or mean. In fact, I played the game perfectly. I was a good kid. A sweet kid. It seemed to whomever was dispensing wisdom at the time that I was really listening.
My body language was in line with those moments. I looked people in the eye. I nodded and smiled and thanked those old farts for their sage advice.
And then I went on doing exactly as I pleased.
And it’s generational. My daughter just admitted to me that she did the same thing – but I was on to her long ago…
Just like my sister was on to me – and (sorry, man) my brother.
Chris doesn’t remember, but I do. Maria bought us t-shirts that said: “Sorry If I Look Interested. I’m really not.”
She pegged us.
Hubris coupled with good manners. What a strange cocktail. Passive rebellion.
But now, much of that unheeded advice is biting me in the ass.
The importance of having a nest egg, for instance – what Napoleon Hill called The Habit of Saving…
I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I failed to understand that saving just a little bit of everything I earned could have put me in a good position in later life. It could have, in fact, made me rich. I’m talking about a forty-year span, give or take. Compound interest would be doing its job and I would have been sitting pretty.
And how about drugs, alcohol and the time wasted in those pursuits…
Not merely the act of drinking and drugging, but the ill-advised hanging out – talking about nothing for hours, as if this were important. Babbling, waiting for the next bump or the next drink. Spending time with folks with nothing more in common than our addictions…
…and thinking too much about getting laid.
YOLO went haywire. After all, was this really living? And if we live only once, shouldn’t I have been building a life that I could be proud of?
Carpe diem probably meant something other than what I was seizing. I can see that now.
Hard lessons learned the hard way.
Procrastination also took its toll, with my incessant can-kicking. I wish the can got kicked down a dead-end road instead of an endless expanse. At least I could have retrieved the can and set it right.
I might have believed it, but I never came to terms with how short this life really is. When older folks told me things like that, I lacked the perspective to grasp the wisdom that was being dispensed.
There is a cliché to the effect that life would be so much easier if we listened to the advice of our elders, but the vanity of youth overrode this truth. I would do things my way.
What an idiot.