Cheap Advice


They say free advice is worth what you paid for it. I believe that may over value it.

Nevertheless, understanding the power of “free,” I offer some of my own. I mostly aim this advice at those younger than me (is there any other type of advice?), but may be useful (heeding the “worth” warnings above) to all.

When young, ten thousand dollars and ten years may seem like an awful lot. Be aware that you can spend both with frightening ease. You may be able to earn back the money but you can never earn back the time.

Time is like a funhouse mirror. What seems close and looms large often is not. What seems small and distant is closer than it seems. The missed deadline will probably not end the world (or even get you fired), middle age, retirement, and, yes, your own death are rushing towards you faster than you could ever imagine. The answer to your childhood plea: “are we there yet?” is Yes!

When young you should read books about “great” persons; it may encourage you to become one. When older you should avoid books about “great” persons; it will only depress you that you never became one.

Do not get hung up on your stuff. The majority of your memories will involve people and events. You will not regret the big screen TV you never bought; you will likely regret the time not spent with family or friends.

It is less that you should not care what others think; it is more that what they think is probably not what you worry about.

Love your parents; if you don’t you will only become upset when you realize how much like them you have become.

Remember the phrase “One day we will look back at this an laugh,” In most cases it is true.

Courage is not something you have, it is something you do. Self-esteem does not come from being great, and it certainly does not come from being told that you are great. Self-esteem comes from small victories over all of life’s small challenges.

The religious say “we all have our cross to bear.” That may be true, but we also all have our gift to give. Finding that gift is where genius begins. Not all will find that gift (I still have not) but if you do, then sharing it will likely bring you the greatest joy of all. Indeed, like Jesus Christ, the cross and the gift may be the same.
[in case you are wondering, I am not particularly religious, I just like the analogy]

The past has its lessons, the future has it possibilities, but the now is the real gift (and that is why we call it the present).

Advice does not come marked “good” or “bad,” making that choice is one of life’s most useful skills. Indeed, I can offer no advice on what to do with the above. I do hope you enjoyed it though.


17 Responses to “Cheap Advice”

  1. sdaedalus Says:

    Very interesting Default.

    I have to say that reading books about great persons rather put me off wanting to be a great person, none of them seemed very happy and the inevitable decline from greatness was particularly painful, possibly more painful than never having been great at all.
    [I can see that for those whose greatness depended on public adulation (e.g., politicians, entertainers, models, etc.), I am less sure for those that achieved something tangible (e.g., scientists, designers, inventors, etc.). I suppose there could be a let down to realize you have a reached your peak but still have much of your life left.]

    Life is pretty painful in places no matter what way you look at it, but even ageing has its compensations.
    [Perhaps. It is certainly inevitable, so we may as well get used to it.]

  2. sdaedalus Says:

    PS: here’s a Swiftian quote on ambition:-

    Ambition often puts men upon doing the meanest offices; so climbing is performed in the same position with creeping.

    This is very true imo.
    [For certain offices that may be true (see my other comment on public adulation) but for many it is not true. Fame and fortune does not, by itself, mean “greatness.”]

  3. To Ponder « Default User Says:

    […] Nov 5, 2010 My Cheap Advice post was the first in a long time that I felt “proud” of. While it is, perhaps, a bit […]

  4. sdaedalus Says:

    I suppose there could be a let down to realize you have a reached your peak but still have much of your life left.

    A serious let-down, I think. Even Churchill, who peaked relatively late, was pretty depressed when he was voted out of office after WW2. Some people would have said that he had achieved so much at that stage, why did he need any more. There’s a lot to be said for exit velocity, though no doubt that’s frustrating in its own way.

  5. sdaedalus Says:

    Also, Elvis.

  6. sdaedalus Says:

    And, well, really, how do you know you’ve reached your peak?

    Churchill example above.

    He could have sat around in his forties and said, well, I was the most exciting young politician once, and that was my peak, and I know I’m past it.
    [While I really did not buy your decline from greatness idea, I was trying to see a way it might be true. Obviously we don’t know what the future holds, so cannot be certain there is not “more where that came from.”]

  7. PA Says:

    My bits of advice:

    – always go for the kiss; I just smacked by 22-year-old self for not going for it.

    – work out. Being strong and filling out your shirt nicely does more for your confidence than many, many other things.

    – Learn a musical instrument; few things relax me like my guitar, which I picked up in my late 30s.

    – have a son. Nothing you’ve expereinced in your life is comparable.

    [Good advice. While I have no experience or expectation of the last item, I can identify with the others.]

  8. David Collard Says:

    Churchill was dumped in an extraordinary reversal of fortune just after his great victory over Hitler. He must have felt very odd indeed.
    [I always thought the British seemed very ungrateful for their dismissal of Churchill post war]

    I think I am peaking in life now. At 55. People can peak at any time. Ten years ago I felt like a real flop. Now I am much happier.
    [I do hope I can recreate that for myself.]

    You have to give things time.

  9. namae nanka Says:

    well written, and reminded me of this song:

    [Thank you. And thank you for the video. That is a nice song. I like “And playing in the rain is worth catching cold”. Lyrics]

    “- have a son. Nothing you’ve expereinced in your life is comparable.”

    even marriage 2.0 is a small price for that.

    “Time is like a funhouse mirror.”

    damn, that’s so true, and pardon me for saying this, but I am getting old goddamit.
    [We are all getting old and at the same rate (with exclusions for those traveling near or faster than the speed of light).]

  10. dalrock Says:

    Great stuff! [Thanks]

    On the advice on parents, I would add to find what you can love about them. Like all people they will have parts you love and parts which drive you crazy. Try to figure out which is which and limit your thoughts and interactions to the parts you admire.

  11. Hope Says:

    I liked this quite a bit. Ten years went by rather quickly for me, and I am only 26. I do remember thinking at the age of 16 that 26 was “old.”

    I wonder what it is about fathers and sons. Any more specifics?

  12. Default User Says:

    Yes I too once thought 26 was old. I also once thought 36 was old too. How little I knew.

    I got on fairly well with my father. I no doubt caused him grief, as teenagers are wont to do, but never had any great antagonism towards him (the way some sons can). I am glad that we were able to share each other’s company as adults. I do see elements of my father in my small habits and mannerisms.

    Nice to hear from you. How are things going with your pregnancy? I presume it will not belong before you bring new hope to the world. {I can’t believe that I wrote that last sentence}

  13. Hope Says:

    That was a great last sentence! 🙂

    Things are going well for the most part. It’s good to keep healthy habits for when times get tough. Almost going into third trimester here. Time’s flying!

  14. PA Says:

    Congratulations Hope. Boy or girl?

  15. namae nanka Says:

    “And playing in the rain is worth catching cold”

    as I grow older I think not. 🙂

    “[We are all getting old and at the same rate (with exclusions for those traveling near or faster than the speed of light).]”

    hehe biology isn’t simple years on the calendar.
    Though I have to agree with Roissy about women getting older more quickly in their 30s, I have seen my mother not change a whit during her 40s, the 50s might however take its toll on her. I have seen girls a few years older than me age faster than her.
    [DU: I have seen that fast aging thing. A few women I know seem to have aged faster in the last few years (late thirties to early forties) than they did in the earlier years (early/mid thirties to late thirties). Of course, I have suffered the same. The last five years has aged me – it seems – than the prior five. I expect that rapid early middle-age aging for women has to do with menopause.]

  16. chic noir Says:

    default thank you for this post. you my dear are an epic man in more ways than one. It would be nice if more of the older bloggers in these parts did such a post.
    [DU: Thanks.]

  17. chic noir Says:

    congrats hope 🙂 default and I would make good e-God parents in case you’re looking.

    *chic noir smiles sweetly at default*

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