60 things I have learned

This is an updated version of a list I made just before I turned 50. Somehow I didn’t figure out until revising that list that it actually contained 49 things—one was duplicated (albeit with slightly different wording) just a few lines apart. Anyway, now I’m 60. Here’s the list:

  1. Let the dog or cat smell your hand before you try to pet it.
  2. Even the most open-minded person is susceptible to rigidity of thought.
  3. Things are never as bad, nor as good, as we think they are.
  4. Even that song you really, really hate required creativity and effort to produce.
  5. Emotional content almost always trumps technical proficiency.
  6. Sometimes, incomplete knowledge of something can result in unexpected creativity and innovation. Other times, it can result in badly translated user manuals…
  7. However ordinary they may have been in the grand scheme of things, the most amazing things I’ve done in my life are those about which I say, “I can’t believe I did this, but…”
  8. If you have two places you need to go to on a given day, but aren’t sure which one to go to first, it doesn’t matter which one you pick. You’re still going to have to go to both.
  9. Bad news makes the news because it is so unusual. That’s right—as common as these things may seem, the average person does not get robbed, raped, kidnapped, killed, arrested, badly injured, chased by police, swindled by scammers, lost in the mountains, trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building, demoted to the minor leagues, financially wiped out by a stock deal gone bad, crushed in an industrial accident, sentenced to prison, removed from political office, and so on, in the course of a typical day.
  10. Actions—or the lack thereof—really do speak louder than words.
  11. I can be—and frequently am—wrong.
  12. Talent often goes unacknowledged.
  13. One close friend is worth more than a dozen acquaintances.
  14. There will always be something you never thought you’d do that you’ll end up doing anyway.
  15. Some things are inevitable. Some things don’t have to be.
  16. One day, you will change your mind about something you strongly believe.
  17. Language is not always used to clarify; often, it is used to obscure or distract.
  18. Even your favorite people will make you angry from time to time.
  19. Some of the most mundane activities can be the most relaxing.
  20. The rhythm is going to get you.
  21. Intentions are meaningless when they produce the wrong result.
  22. People will pick the most inconvenient times to be themselves.
  23. It’s all hard until it’s done.
  24. You can always find fault if that is what you are looking for.
  25. Silence has restorative powers.
  26. Silence is almost always misinterpreted as whatever is most convenient for the person taking advantage of it.
  27. Isolation has cumulative effects.
  28. People will surprise you. This means that you will sometimes be disappointed.
  29. If the Asahi Shinbun shows a chance of rain of 20% or less for the Tokyo metropolitan area, you will not need a raincoat or umbrella that day. If it shows the chance of rain as 30% or more, you will.
  30. The people who inspire you now will eventually be replaced by others.
  31. There’s always one more thing.
  32. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on.
  33. Often, our biggest battles are the ones we fight are the ones in our own heads.
  34. Laughter can overcome a surprising variety of shortcomings.
  35. I don’t know everything I’ve learned.
  36. Being there is not the same thing as being present.
  37. That fad you hate will eventually go away.
  38. That fad you love will eventually go away.
  39. Some people will never believe the truth.
  40. Some people will always believe the lie.
  41. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that doing it is a good idea.
  42. With very few exceptions, no matter how widely despised a public figure was, someone will always have something good to say about that person when they die.
  43. Some of the silliest things provoke the most heated arguments.
  44. If you know you’re not going to like the answer, then you probably shouldn’t ask the question.
  45. Everything is funny at 4:30 in the morning.
  46. Sunk costs are irrelevant.
  47. Context counts for a lot.
  48. Timing is everything.
  49. No matter how bad you think you have it, someone else has it far worse.
  50. Trust your gut. Your head will try to talk you into/out of it; ignore it.
  51. Old words will eventually find new meanings.
  52. There is no such thing as perfection.
  53. The least secure tend to be the most heavily armed.
  54. Some things really are more trouble than they’re worth.
  55. People who are very smart about some things are very stupid about others.
  56. Your parents were right when they told you you’d understand when you got older.
  57. The things you think can never happen to you will eventually happen to you.
  58. When you’re looking for the source of the problem, it’s just as likely to be the last thing you check as it is the first.
  59. Every Facebook meme that starts “Today is the day Marty McFly…” is still wrong.
  60. You can’t escape who you are, so you may as well enjoy it.

(16 March 2023)

Wishes sometimes have consequences is available to order from your favorite local bookstore.

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