Well, I woke up this morning and realized what day it was and since it has been a while since I shared my thoughts with you, I thought maybe if I had some thoughts to share, I could probably do that with a brand new “Thoughts for Thursday”. Isn’t this your lucky day!
So, I just let Bea go outside, the cutest dog in the world and a guest author of some of my earlier “Thoughts for Thursdays”, and couldn’t help but notice how damn cold it is. Now, I know it’s still April, but yesterday was 70 degrees and I just assumed this morning with all of it’s bright sunny skies would be warmer than the Nordic temperatures that greeted me. As usual, I was wrong.
It struck me how quickly things change sometimes and how obvious those changes can be. Which made me consider some of the things that can take a very long time to change and are frequently overlooked.
A 40 degree drop in temperature overnight is hard to miss, but what about all the things in life that take months or years to evolve? How often do we pause to notice and take stock of these things as life goes by?
Now I don’t want this to deteriorate into a flowery philosophical treatise on how the mighty oak comes from a tiny acorn and how I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. That’s not really my style. Not enough sarcasm for my taste.
Not that trees aren’t great and all. I’m all for trees and shrubs and plants of various kinds, so don’t go spreading rumors that Uncle Steve is Anti-Tree. I don’t need any more trouble from those militant Arbor Day Advocates, those people are nuts.
Trees are definitely an excellent example of changes over time that may not register on our daily radar, but not exactly what first comes to mind for me.
If you’re a fan of that sort of thing, we have the wonderful Lake Katherine for all your horticultural and natural revelation needs. If you haven’t been there, you should make a point of it. It’s awesome.
Just watch out for those Arbor Day Advocates, seriously.
What I began to ponder was more of the people and lives that change so gradually that we may not properly take stock of them as the days rush rapidly forward.
Ok, I guess being somewhat flowery and philosophical is going to be unavoidable here.
The aforementioned Bea will turn 2 years old in less than a week. It is shocking how big she has grown in only a few years and the memories of the tiny puppy we brought home are still easy to envision.
My children, once so tiny and adorable and loving, have grown into actual adults. Still at times adorable and loving if not so tiny anymore.
Even though these changes have taken years, they are still recent enough to notice and reflect on with little effort. Noting the changes in our own lives is not nearly as easy for me.
So, let’s take “me” for example.
This is my post after all and I’m the one doing most of the hard work here (yes, you must read it which isn’t always easy, I know), so if I want to make this about me, I’m entitled.
My birthday is in 18 days (gifts and donations can be sent to Computer Greeks as usual). If my math is correct, that means on May 2nd, I will turn really really old. May is also the month that Computer Greeks turns 26 years old, which in business years is crazy old, but let’s keep the focus on me.
I can vaguely remember not being really old, (they say your memory is often the first to go) and I can certainly see there have been more than a few changes over the past 3 or 4 decades.
Apart from the obvious physical changes, (my increasingly rugged good looks), I am so far removed from the person I was back then I often wish I could travel back in time just to punch my younger self in the face.
I know, many of you probably share the same thought.
I mean about visiting your younger selves, not going back in time just to smack me around.
Ok, maybe some of you think about borrowing my time machine and going back to high school to teach me a lesson or two, and I guess I don’t blame you, but geez, get over it already.
I wasn’t that bad, was I? Don’t answer.
The younger me was clueless. Too confident, too cocky, too smart for his own good that it would be years before he realized what an idiot he actually was and still is to this day.
Mark Twain once wrote, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
That couldn’t be more accurate.
Now don’t get me wrong, the young me wasn’t a bad guy. There are many things I greatly respect about him.
He was a generally decent person, despite the occasional transgression or two. He usually tried hard and certainly didn’t want to cause hurt to anyone, despite what the four or five fights he would get into might argue to the contrary (never my fault, believe me).
Much more optimistic than he would be in later life and with the energy and fearlessness to try new things that over time would become less and less possible.
He had rarely failed the way he would in future years and that goes a long way to creating an attitude that often only the young possess.
He had good friends that he never appreciated enough at the time and that he still thinks very fondly of to this day.
Love hadn’t scarred him as it would eventually, as it does to all of us, and that seems to create a naivete that you just envy. It’s a brief window in our lives that never lasts very long and will never be duplicated.
As the years and decades would pass, that me would slowly and almost imperceptibly become the current me, with changes both small and at times dramatic.
I have often mentioned how I didn’t have to grow up until my dad passed away. I was 29, married, and with a 6-month-old daughter at home and until he was gone, I didn’t have to be a real adult every day.
That was a dramatic change.
I was still immature at times, but life and the pressures of opening a new business and having so much depending on what I did and how I did it was immense.
In my thirties I would try to be a good father and husband, often with complete and abject failures that I still find hard to fathom.
In my forties, I would continue to do much of the same, while slowly the things I wanted to achieve in life would evolve into much less “things” and much more “life”.
I would also do my best to pretend to be a good business owner and learn from my past mistakes, which honestly is all that being an adult is about, gaining experience and faking it.
For anyone out there who might be in their “younger” years, let me clue you in on a huge secret.
Those of us you consider adults, are just kids who have gained enough experience to be able to pretend we know what we are doing well enough to convince those around us that we really do know what we are doing.
It’s all a big show.
We don’t wake up in the morning feeling like grown up adults, no matter how old we are or how long we’ve been working at all these things that make up life. We’re just doing our best to not repeat our mistakes and hope no one notices it’s all a hoax.
There, now you know the big secret. Don’t let anyone know where you heard it from.
The me of today is both a greater and lesser version of my younger self. We’re not entirely different people, just a reflection of the changes that time, experience, comedy, tragedy, and life itself have contributed to over all these days.
I’m more patient than I was. Less likely to overact, both positively and negatively.
My values are substantially different and the worlds I wanted to conquer when I was young are much less important than the life I want to achieve now.
Accumulating money and things is not a goal in and of itself. I strive to achieve a quality of life that I haven’t always enjoyed, which is much more important than any possessions or things could be.
I use the word “enough” a lot these days. I just need enough money to not worry about not having enough money. I just need enough time to not worry about not having enough time. I don’t need more. I don’t want bigger and shinier and better than anyone else has. I just work to have enough.
And when work and life become too difficult and stressful as they often will, I know when I have had enough of that as well and do my best to make the changes I can so that happens less and less often.
If I can get that previously mentioned time machine working or when one eventually becomes available on Amazon, I would love to pay my younger self a visit and give him a few words of advice.
1- Put every dime into Apple Stock (It’s not that I still want mountains of money, but like Forest Gump said, it would be one less thing, which is nice). 2- Don’t sweat the small stuff. You have no idea what big things are coming that will require all of your sweat, so save it up. 3- Getting hurt is ok. You’ll survive. 4- You don’t have to be right. Winning often means someone else has to lose, and that often isn’t worth it. 5- Don’t speed in residential areas- especially that one street on the way to school- the cops are waiting there. 6- You can’t know what you don’t know but realize there’s so much you don’t know and that’s why you’re an idiot. 7- Appreciate what you can while you can. Life doesn’t always give you a head’s up that something big is coming. You need to appreciate the unexpected little things every day. Looking back, they will often be much more important than you think. 8- Work hard, but don’t make your life about work. (I recently saw a post asking “what would be your dream job?”. The response was, “why would I dream of labor?” Work is a necessity, doing what you love is a gift few have, but life isn’t about your job and you shouldn’t be defined by what you do. 9- Typing class is going to be way more important than you think. 10- Enjoy the 1985-86 Super Bowl Bear’s season- it’s going to be a long wait for another one. 11- Spend time with those you love- life is shorter than you think. 12- Forgive others and ask to be forgiven when you’re wrong- and then move on. Being wrong is going to happen, learn to accept it, make up for it, and be better- but don’t punish yourself or others for it forever. It’s not worth the cost. 13- Life isn’t always fair and bad things happen to good people. Working on accepting these things goes a long way to dealing with life in general. 14- Never open a software and computer shop. 15- Always show respect to others until they prove they don’t deserve it, then avoid those people as much as possible. There will be crappy people in every facet of your life, family, work, school, friends, everywhere. The more you can remove them from your life, the happier you will be. 16- It’s all going to be ok. You’re going to fail. You’re going to lose. You’re going to hurt. Tomorrow, you’ll get up and try to be better. You’re going to be ok. 17- And finally, if you ever get the idea to write down and post your thoughts thinking that anyone else has any interest in reading them, move on- you’re just not that interesting.
Until next time -Be Well and Stay Safe, Uncle Steve