Some Things I Know

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
— Will Rogers

Full disclosure: the list of things that I know is infinitesimal -- miniscule -- when compared against the list of things I probably should know or potentially could know.

Of course, you may already know many of the things I'm about to share with you. They're not secret; they don't require any special training or education; most of them are common sense, yet I probably would have been hard pressed to say that 10, 20 or 30 years ago, before scuffling and scraping through the inevitable challenges and difficulties that fate has placed in my path.

In that spirit, then, here are some things I know that I thought perhaps you might like to know, too. I trust that you will forgive me if I say something obvious or banal. It's an occupational hazard:

  • If you don't love yourself it's impossible to really, truly believe that another person could love you

  • I have more control over my health and well-being than I ever realized, or than anyone ever told me was possible

  • I have zero control over people or events external to me, and can only hope to control how I respond to those things that are beyond my ability to control

  • If I'm unhappy about something I have three choices: (1) try everything and anything possible to change it, if it can be changed; (2) if it can't be changed, then I must learn to accept it; (3) if I can't accept it, then the only option is to learn to endure it

  • I am not a passive consumer that can be manipulated into acquiring things I don't need; I don't have to be a slave to "stuff"

  • I am not a "market segment" or "demographic" or balance sheet figure that some commercial enterprise can lay claim to in reports to its shareholders

  • I am not a gadget (thank you Jaron Lanier) whose behavior can be controlled and constrained by a few hundred software engineers and user experience designers in Northern California

  • I am more than the sum of the data points that Big Tech is frantically (and often unethically) competing to monopolize and monetize

  • Material things provide me with fleeting happiness at best

  • More choice (in toothpaste, in television channels, in bourbon) is not necessarily better

  • Being outside never fails to make me feel better

  • Spirituality and religion are not the same thing; one can be spiritual in the absence of religion, and one can be religious without being spiritual

  • Doing nice things for other people without the expectation of anything in return is the highest form of love

  • I am no longer a frightened child who desperately wants to be taken care of

  • I have experienced the most growth only after enduring the most difficult, painful challenges; that which hasn't killed me has indeed made me stronger

  • I'm much better off when I act from a heart-centered place, even it means overruling my rational mind

  • Growing older, while filled with inevitable difficulties, nevertheless has its perks (and it certainly beats the alternative -- a pretty corpse)

  • Parenthood is a sacred responsibility, and often thankless; think of it as populating the world you won't get to see with the most loving, kindest, most creative people possible

  • As frighteningly capable apes we have a calling to protect the world in which we live on behalf of all the other species and future generations that are utterly dependent on us to do the right thing

  • I might not always know what to do in every situation but I know that if I follow the 4 Stoic virtues -- Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice -- I will act with integrity and in accordance with my values

  • It's up to me to discover my unique genius and to bring that into the world to benefit others; no one can hold me back except myself

  • The difference between solitude and loneliness is a sense of mission or purpose

  • People in positions of authority told me things when I was an impressionable little boy that turned out not to be true, not even close. I embrace a healthy skepticism now

  • Every time I have indulged my curiosity -- every single time -- I have emerged out the other side infinitely, immeasurably enriched

  • Some things are too important not to try, even if it's scary and the outcome is far from certain

  • Learning opportunities abound, even where we least expect them

Sometimes I need to remind myself of the things I know. That's when this list comes in handy; it helps me make sense of the things I've been through. It's evidence that I have grown, that I have learned something along the way.

It's proof that I'm alive.