I turned 30 last week, and celebrated by joining my Mom in attempting (and succeeding) in her first half marathon. I was very proud of her for working so hard over the last few months to get herself into shape for such a demanding test, and was honored to be able to accompany her during her accomplishment.
I was going to list the 30 things that I have learned in my first 30 years of life. How trite. Unfortunately, I haven't learned 30 things, so you get 9 things, and even that was hard to come up with, so no complaining.
You don't have to make all the mistakes on your own - Seems like no one ever wants to listen to other people's advice. We all think that our own situation, whatever it may be, is so unique that no other person's could be relevant enough to to listen. Our love is stronger, our difficulties more trying, our situation more desperate. Slowly and painfully, I have learned that a lot of trials and tribulations can be avoided by just recognizing that other people's situations were often close enough to at least pay attention to. Certainly, we need to make up our own minds, but we should at least consider learning from other people's mistakes.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast - Admittedly lifted from Mark Whalberg's sniper movie, "Shooter," this expression has really struck me as a truism. Used by Whalberg's character as a way to go through each step of loading, aiming and firing while taking incoming fire and amidst incredible distractions, I repeat it to myself all the time. When I rush (anything), it doesn't get done well. When I take my time without wasting my time, concentrate and focus on each individual step, things get done right.
Usually, but not always, you get what you put in - When you work hard, dedicate yourself, and try your best, usually you get what you want. But not always.
Saying "yes" opens up more opportunities than saying "no" - Within reason, of course. I defer to Sam Sheridan, who says it much better than I can: "If it comes to doing something or not doing something, you have to do it, because you have already tried the "not doing it" part."
Money, unfortunately, matters - I wish it didn't, but it does. Money doesn't buy you happiness, but to some degree, it at least allows the possibility of it. Life is a lot more stressful when you're not sure if you will be able to make rent on the 1st.
My mind and body can get used to, and put up, with just about anything - We don't need to baby ourselves. Our bodies will keep going long, LONG after our mind tells us to stop, that we are too tired, too sore, too sick, too hungry, too lazy, too whatever. We don't need to "test our limits," because we can just rest assured that we will never reach them. Just keep going.
There is such a thing as luck, but I should live like there isn't - If you are reading (or writing) this, we have been blessed with being born into a lifestyle that is far more comfortable than the vast majority of the world. That I was not born into a life of desperate poverty is as pure a proof that there is luck as we are likely to find. But now that I am here, I should ignore luck. "The weak man believes in luck and circumstance, the strong man believes in cause and effect." I should act and believe that I am responsible for the good and bad that comes my way, refuse to blame others, and control what I can. At the same time, I must remember that not everyone has had it as easy, and remind myself that sympathy and understanding is often in order.
Consistency is more productive than a frenzy of activity - "Life isn't a spurt, but a long, steady climb." We can't "mistake intention for determination," and use all of our energy in the first day, eventually losing passion and excitement along the way. Day after day, year after year of consistent work adds up a lot quicker than a sprint.
The best social circle is the one where it's easy to be the person you want to be - Some people can bring you down, and some can build you up. The best allow you to be the person you are trying to be. I have found that it is very difficult to maintain the values and morals that I care about when around certain groups, and that is because they do not care or respect these values. They value different things. We are truly the company that we keep, if not immediately, then over time.
I have also learned that no matter how much sushi you eat at one sitting, you will be hungry again in an hour. Good beer is worth the extra cost. My parents know a lot more than I thought they did at 16, coming up with excuses should be considered an art form, three days in the woods centers me more effectively than just about anything, and that we learn best by doing.