So, today is my 52nd birthday, so Happy Birthday To Me, and all that sorta stuff. 52 seems like an interesting number -- not only is it hard for me to believe that I'm this old, it's the number of weeks in a year, the number of white keys on a piano, and the number of cards in a standard deck. (I mentioned this last one to a friend of mine, and said that as of today, I'd finally be playing with a full deck. She looked at me, raised one eyebrow, and said, "I think it's gonna take more than that.")
So I thought I'd step aside from my usual fare for a day, and present a list of 52 things I've learned in the last 52 years. I hope that you'll find some of them worthwhile.
1) Make a habit of being genuine. Deception, even of yourself, can't be maintained forever.
2) If you want to find out whether someone is actually nice or not, watch how they treat dogs, cats, children, restaurant wait staff, and salespeople.
3) Live life with passion.
4) Don't take everything so damned seriously. Most of the things that happen are, in the long run, irrelevant.
5) Don't overeat, but eat food you like. Vegan raw-food enthusiasts who drink only wheat grass juice will still eventually die.
6) Being a loner isn't noble. Being a loner is cowardly.
7) Complaining a lot pisses people off and solves essentially nothing.
8) Don't be ashamed of your tastes in art, music, books, and so on. Anyone who ridicules you because of something that is a simple matter of opinion is an asshole.
9) There is nothing shameful about crying in public.
10) Relaxing and wasting time are not the same thing.
11) There are some people in this world who will be determined to see you as a different person than who you really are. Fighting this is probably a waste of time.
12) Changing things from the top down seldom works. The only real way to change things is from the bottom up.
13) People are always in love with their own delusions, and we all have them.
14) Spending more time outside is usually a good thing.
15) You can't be depressed if you are speaking what is truly in your heart.
16) Don't be afraid to take off your clothes in a gym locker room. Most of the people who would care what you look like naked are in the other locker room.
17) In general, you will have more regrets about what you didn't do than what you did do. (Unless what you're planning on doing is killing someone.)
18) Find some way to be creative. Everyone is creative if they allow themselves to be.
19) You can't be unhappy for long if you have a snoring dog at your feet.
20) If you can, travel. It is the most mind-expanding thing you can do.
21) Most of us could do with having fewer opinions and asking more questions.
22) If you put only half of yourself into an endeavor, it will be a waste of time for everyone involved.
23) There is very little that you will not be able to deal with better after a good night's sleep.
24) No matter how good you are at something, there will always be people who are better and worse than you are. Be happy for the ones who are better and be courteous to the ones who are worse.
25) Don't be afraid to say no to people.
26) Don't be afraid to say yes to people.
27) Get out on the dance floor. You're more conspicuous just standing there than you would be if you were out dancing with the rest of us.
28) If life hands you lemons, the hell with lemonade. Make lemon meringue pie.
29) If you go to another country, eat what they eat. You can get Big Macs at home.
30) Cultivate tolerance.
31) Be willing to laugh at your own quirks.
32) One of the best tests for whether or not you should do something is to ask, "Will I be glad I did this ten years from now?"
33) Be willing to lose an argument once in a while.
34) Cruelty is never justified.
35) Be unpredictable sometimes.
36) Don't talk once the movie has started.
37) Always keep in mind that much of what is on the internet is complete bullshit.
38) Pay attention when children talk to you. It may not be interesting to listen to, but it's still important.
39) Exercise more.
40) You are not in competition with everyone. All conversations aren't battles for superiority.
41) Sarcasm can be funny, but use it with caution.
42) Life is too short to drink bad beer.
43) Fundamentally, gullibility and cynicism come from the same place; an unwillingness to commit oneself to the hard work of thinking.
44) Every once in a while, go out at night and spend some time looking up at the stars. It’s worthwhile being reminded how small we are.
45) A sincere apology goes a long, long way.
46) Don't trust anyone who comes to your door trying to sell you a political ideology or a religious belief system.
47) Play more.
48) Waste less.
49) Remember that most of the things we worry about won't come to pass.
50) There are times when things look hopeless, and the world seems bleak. Hope anyway.
51) You will sometimes fail at things you desperately want to succeed at. Try anyway.
52) You will sometimes get your heart broken. Love anyway.