10 things I wish someone had told me so I’m telling you

Saturday, 6 November 2004

I don’t care if I forgot your birthday again, I’m still your friend.

#10, You don’t know what’s important—you better figure it out.

The things you think you want, you might not. The things you think are important to you, they probably aren’t. The trick in life is twigging to it early enough to have the time for the knowledge to be useful.

Go see “Fight Club.” On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. You’re going to be dead any day; maybe today. Find out what’s important, to you, and don’t let it go.

#9, Love and sex overlap but they are not the same thing.

No moral judgement or high horsery. Just learn it. You will thank me someday.

love and sex

#8, Don’t be sloppy with your guns.

We all have to destroy now and then in life. Whether it’s firing someone, breaking up, putting a suffering pet to sleep, ratting out a friend to save him from ODing, whatever. Pain is a given. Less pain is what you are shooting for. Shoot straight.

#8.1, Just break up.

When it’s time, just break up. Don’t call again. Don’t write more. Don’t think about the things you could have said. Just break the fuck up.

It doesn’t matter who did what to whom or why or when or even how many times while whoever was watching. It means fuck all in the end.

The things that normally sane and thoughtful people will do to each other while on The Outs are horrifying, humiliating, and can be life changing in long-term, crippling ways.

#7, Common sense is more important than formal education.

#7.1, Don’t believe anything that can’t be shown.

Contrary to what PT Barnum prompted David Hannum to say, there is not a sucker born every minute. There are 210 suckers born every minute. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not true. Eg, the cutting of a single Lamb’s throat to save every child molester since Eve went down on Cain is neither a reasonable nor a demonstrable proposition. And therefore:

#7.2, Organized religion is wrong and it’s okay to say so.

There is not one impartially documented miracle in history. No one is born knowing God. You get a certain flavor forced down your throat like a communion rape. There are 100 religions out there and most of them say that the devotées of all the others are going to Hell. Do you believe in God? The odds that you’ve picked the wrong one are 99:1. Because you’ve never been out of Shitburg, GA you don’t know that there are other religions and that Christians are, at most, 30% of the world. Or that half the Christians think the other half are going to Hell too. I’m an atheist and I think Catholics go to Hell.

There is a powerful and important place in the minds of men that religion inhabits but the Host that grows there by dogmatic decree is cancerous; eroding the ability to be responsible for yourself; eroding thought; eroding ethics; eroding common sense.

#6, Be nice.

Do it for yourself—not them. Back-stabbing wins battles but it loses allies and therefore wars. Aggressiveness opens doors but it closes and draws the bolt on two for every one it opens.

Nice guys don’t always finish first but they don’t usually have to move or change a flat without help either. You will attract people in your life who are like you. There’s no way around it. Being an asshole may well generate friends, but they’ll be unreliable assholes too.

#5, Pain is not an illusion.

Saying that pain is an illusion is on the face a way to embolden and calm oneself against awful experiences, but it’s dangerously dismissive of something that exists to improve and protect us: pain.

#5.1, Pain without dignity is not heroic.

Being a victim does not make you a hero and it doesn’t mean you deserve a book deal with HarperCollins. It’s too bad that happened to you but quit acting like you deserve a door prize for it.

#4, War is Hell but Politics is the Devil Hisself.

Before you don a beret and grow a goatée, learn some history. From the opening skirmish of the Peloponnesian War to those killed in Persia yesterday, war has been fairly constant and has ended at least 50,000,000 lives. Politics, however, has been completely constant and in just the last 100 years governments have been directly responsible for the deaths of 170,000,000 of their own citizens.

#3, Mind your own business.

Don’t play match-maker, don’t play couples-counselor, don’t bank roll friends, don’t make job referrals, don’t talk about personal issues with strangers. You might think this sounds unfriendly, but the opposite is true. Keeping your nose out of others’ asses is the Mile 1 marker to Real Friendship.

#3.1, Bust in when it matters.

Rarely, really rarely, you should get involved and be in the middle. If you find you’ve done this more than 2 or 3 times in your whole life, back up to “Mind your own business” until you get the hang of that.

#2, Own up to it.

Taking responsibility is the only thing that will make you strong. It’s the only thing you can count on not to let you down for good. It’s the only thing standing in your way.

#2.1, Being selfish isn’t just okay, it’s right.

Selfish doesn’t mean you want a new car to impress the chicks. Get it? If you want the new car to impress them, the reason you want it isn’t selfish. It’s the opposite. You want it for someone else.

The things we really want for ourselves tend to be much healthier. And if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you’re useless to everyone else anyway.

#2.2, You’re going to be wrong.

Don’t make asinine stands just because your feelings got hurt. Pretending you weren’t wrong will not make you right. It just makes you a joke.

You want to be right so bad? Try this: I was wrong.

#1, Ignorance is weakness and suffering.

Learn the fables. The grasshopper was an ignorant fuck who had a great time till lay-offs came around. Fortune comes into it and some are paid more or less than they earn but most get pretty much exactly what they deserve out of life. What did you do today to make your life better? Unless you’re on the way to bed, you still have a piece to try for. It’s in your power to improve your mind right now. Everything you do to make yourself better makes the world better for it.

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johnny johnny john

Re: 10 things I wish someone had told me so I’m telling you

you say your an atheist, but what you have written proves to me that you beleive in god. No, it might not be the god that 95% of conventional society says they beleive in, but what you have written demonstrates a strong mind and a will to help others. I can tell that you beleive in the "good", "the cause", the "essence", its all the same. Maybe you just choose to call it something else, but whatever it is, you beleive in it, and to alot of other people they call it god. Im not trying to change your opinion because either way you seem like a good person with very strong morals anyway. On a side note i'd just like to say great list! and remember "At the root of all anger is misunderstanding", someone told me to say that to you

By johnny johnny john on 29 May 2010 · 17:18

A is A

Re^2: 10 things I wish someone had told me so I’m telling you

I appreciate that. Thank you. I’ve been trying to write a follow-up to this for a year or so. Can’t quite find it yet.

At the root of all anger is misunderstanding.

That is thoughtful and I’d agree it’s largely accurate. Anger comes from pain too and pain isn’t always self-inflicted. I’d also say that too many human beings enjoy the safety of their ignorance and from that place they are culpable for the misunderstandings and ensure they continue.

There is a window in young people especially when they want to be good. They yearn to have a reason to be. They are half-dying to know the path and are too willing to take any that presents itself. From the desire, sadness, overwhelming sense of hope and destiny and sunset gazing and teenage brain chemistry bursting the seams… This starts to get a bit more personal that I usually let it. I created half a language in my own youth and the word for that emotion, I believe otherwise uncatalogued in the world’s tongues, was wipseraien. Youth a problem to be corrected, not a resource to be embraced and studied. Thankfully Google tells me the string of letters is still unique as of today. Well, now it’s out there, twenty-five years later.

You’re right about the caring. It’s care for the world of living. The world of the dead, the would-be world eternal, holds no sway here. There is a passage in The Fountainhead that covers this strangeness you clearly see in me–

“Mr. Stoddard, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake,” he said, his voice slow and tired. “I don’t think I’m the man you want. I don’t think it would be right for me to undertake it. I don’t believe in God.”

“That doesn’t matter. You’re a profoundly religious man, Mr. Roark—in your own way. I can see that in your buildings.”

He wondered why Roark stared at him like that, without moving, for such a long time.

“That’s true,” said Roark. It was almost a whisper.

That he should learn something about himself, about his buildings, from this man who had seen it and known it before he knew it, that this man should say it with that air of tolerant confidence implying full understanding—removed Roark’s doubts. He told himself that he did not really understand people…

The Fountainhead

A few friends and acquaintances have compared me to Roark over time. But we’re different. I resemble Dominique Francon, and in more ways than are comfortable. She understood people—and more importantly, herself—all too well.

Tell your friend I admit I owe him exactly one favor.

By A is A on 29 May 2010 · 19:01