I give you people lots of advice. No, scratch that…I don’t suppose I give advice so much as I just like to rattle on about how I think that things should be. From politics to traffic to the stupid ducks at the river, I use this little column each month to mainly make fun of our shared frustrations. Because of this, most of you assume I am a genuinely angry old man, sitting on my porch throwing apple cores at the kids on their bicycles. However, that’s not really who I am.

In fact, I decided to take a deep breath this month and simply dispense a little wisdom from someone that has been around a while. None of this will be ground-breaking to you, however, let me tell you that the view from the top of the mountain is different when you get here. As you climb, you can only see what is in front of you, but when you reach the top, you can see everywhere and it gives you a bit more perspective about what matters…and what doesn’t.

SCHEDULES ARE FROM THE DEVIL – Bedtime. Lunchtime. Alarm clocks. We all have these things, and before you know it, you have a full-blown “schedule”. Shake things up sometimes…stay up crazy late. Wake up really early and watch a sunrise. Ditch work some days and take a kid fishing. Don’t get into a rut. It’ll eat your soul.

PAIN IS MYSTERIOUS – HAVING FUN IS A REAL CURE – We all have hurts. Physical ones, emotional ones, and a whole variety of pains and maladies. Don’t let them stop you even if they physically limit you. Laugh, drink, and breathe. Have a genuinely good time, and sure enough, those pains and hurts will be minimized. Think about it.

WHEN YOU LAUGH AT YOURSELF, YOU PREVENT OTHERS FROM LAUGHING AT YOU – You are not nearly as cool as you think you are. You’re going to mess up, foul up, and screw up. When you do, own it. Laugh at it if you can and learn. Be better next time. Life is too short to take yourself too seriously. Trust me.

SLOW TIME BY FOCUSING – In the rat-race of life, so many details get by us. We hustle so fast that life tends to zoom past us. Take time every single day to stop and simply look at the clouds. Pick up a flower and smell it. Watch birds fly. God gave us these things for the sole purpose to experience, and you should do it more. You’ll begin to SEE more of what’s around you, and time slows for those that appreciate it.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, PICK THE RIGHT SPOUSE – So much of your happiness will begin and end with this decision. Hell, this is the person you’re at least planning to spend the rest of your life with, so why settle? Get it right the first time. Slow down, really KNOW them, and don’t ignore the red flags. Those red flags will become flags of war if you’re not careful.

LIVE HEALTHY, BUT NOT TOO HEALTHY – for goodness sake, have a Jack on the rocks before bed if you want. Have the extra scoop of ice cream. Drink gobs of wine with your spouse on the porch. There’s lot of ways to be healthy, but denying yourself the indulgences that make life worth living should not be part of your insane “workout regimen”.

DRINK WATER DIRECTLY FROM THE FAUCET – Everybody is scared of everything nowadays. I mean, people have been brainwashed into believing that faucet water is somehow BAD for them. Get over it. Be dangerous. Live a little. This goes for you soccer moms that protect your kids from EVERYTHING to you dads that are just as overprotective. Life is a dangerous sport and none of us will get out alive. Teach your kids about what will really hurt them…don’t teach them that they are too good for tapwater.

HAVE A PET – You’re going to be lonely someday. Even with a house full of family, you’ll experience it. Have a pet around that will always want to be with you. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and about life when you talk with your pet.

TRAVEL EVERYWHERE YOU CAN – While you can (young), travel. I don’t care how you pull it off, but do it. You’re going to cry about money, but that’s a lame excuse. Trust me, you’ll remember that trip to Alaska way more than you’ll remember how much it cost. Figure it out and do it.
FORGIVE SOMEONE – There’s a lot of people that are going to piss you off. Let it go. Don’t waste the energy on it. Forgive them, even if you can’t tell them to their face and move on. I imagine that you have managed to piss off others as well, so give them the forgiveness that you would appreciate for yourself.

There’s more. There’s LOTS more. But the above list is a pretty good start. I think that oftentimes life is as hard as we make it out to be, and I’m here to say that as I review my own life, I made mine a lot harder than it needed to be. Learn from me. That’s one thing Old Timer’s universally want: to think that they left a mark on this world. Maybe mine will be that one of you out there reads this rambling from an old man and takes it to heart. If that happens, I’m a pretty content old codger. Ya’ll be good.