Friday, July 06, 2007

The Season For Pomposity

Here's some advice I'm sending to my nephew, who just graduated from high school. He, of course, has excellent parents and is a Fine Young Man, and requires no advice from his relatives. But as the designated Spinster Aunt with Too Much Education, I get privileges.

I would have loved to add lots of specific suggestions with this, such as why you should worry about driving too fast but not so much about using public toilets, but that's just overkill. Fun, but overkill.

Or, there's the First Time Eating In Non-Anglo-Cuisine Restaurants Rule: Don't pop stuff in your mouth before inquiring about its relative spiciness. Otherwise known as the Susan-Once-Spit-a-Cube-o'-Wasabi-Across-a-Restaurant Rule.

Aunt Susan’s Good Advice,
or Stuff I Know Now That I Wish I’d Known Then
  • You’ll never be this good looking again, but you’ll feel much better about yourself as you get older.
  • Other people are generally too busy worrying about themselves to worry about your missteps and imperfections.
  • People who pay too much attention to other folks’ missteps and imperfections have their own problems. Pity them and move on.
  • Take risks.
  • Take some time to understand which risks are worth taking. (Consider this the condom corollary.)
  • Silliness is its own reward.
  • Use common sense.
  • Common sense is a combination of instinct and communal experience: sometimes it’s outdated or just plain wrong.
  • Curiosity and an open mind will carry you places you never even knew you wanted to go.
  • Kindness and forgiveness—to oneself and to others—take much less energy than anger and resentment.
  • Acknowledge and value your anger.
  • A good sense of humor and conscious breathing will get you through almost anything.
  • Begin with the recognition of the limits your knowledge. In other words, stupid can be a good thing.
  • Life is contradiction and paradox.

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