by Kristina Wright
You don't get to be 45 years old without having learned a few things about life. So sit back, dear readers, and benefit from my wisdom.
1. You can't always get what you want. Yes, the Rolling Stones sang it first, but I'm going to sing it again, a little off-key. You can't always get what you want. You can complain about it, whine about it, cry about it, blame other people for it, sue other people for your mental anguish over it, but at the end of the day you still won't always get what you want. Suck it up, bail the water out of your boat, readjust your sails for a different (and perhaps better) course and carry on. Rejection and disappointment make you stronger and more resilient. It turns you into a human cockroach-- nothing can destroy you.
2. But you can get what you need. I know, you think this is a cop out. I'm just quoting song lyrics and pretending these are life lessons. But again, just because they're lyrics to a song doesn't make it less true. You can't always get what you want, but in the end you absolutely can get what you need. It's a matter of figuring out what the hell you really need in the first place. Stop comparing your needs to other people's needs, stop whining about life being unfair. Turn off the noise in your brain and really think about what you need to be happy and fulfilled. It's probably a lot less than you realize. I need more sleep and more hours in the day to work and, per the above, I don't always get it. In fact, I am always short on sleep and time. But I can get a hefty dose of caffeine and a few stolen hours to work that would normally be spent cleaning the house (::cough:: reading a book ::cough).
3. Time is on your side. No, really, it is. We live in this society of hurry, hurry, rush, rush, get your fast food in under 3 minutes, use the microwave instead of the stove, drink your dinner out of a can, multitask on your laptop and iPhone at the same time, graduate early so you can get in the work force sooner, fast track the career, have children before you're 30 and your eggs dry up, jockey for the best parking space at the mall on 6 AM the day after Thanksgiving so you can buy the hottest new doll for your kid for Christmas, retire early, start a second career, retire from that one, get that retirement time share before the prices go up, pre-pay your funeral arrangements, hurry, hurry! Whew! Just stop it, okay? People are living longer, healthier lives and there is no need to rush so much. Slow down. Breathe. Enjoy the ride, because it's all about the ride, you know? And don't buy into the hype that if you don't do something NOW you will never do it. If you don't do it now, you probably don't really want to do it anyway.
4. Dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. Okay, I'm a Batman fan, whatever. But if the Joker ever asks you if you've danced with the devil, you should be able to say yes. What do I mean? Just this: stop being so damned careful about everything you do. Stop worrying that the bad guys are lurking outside your window, that the cough you woke up with means you have emphysema, that everyone is out to get you, that the world is going to end in December or that you're going to get your heart broken by that new guy. Take a chance. Take a dozen chances. Dance with the devil and whirl that bad boy around on the dance floor until he's too dizzy to mess with you. Tempt fate. Yeah, you might fail-- and you might fail big, but it'll be good while it lasts. The devil is quite the dancer. Don't miss out.
5. Be fierce. Be the lion, not the lamb. Passivity doesn't make for a happy life, it makes for a life of vague, unnamed regrets. Don't let your own life just happen to you. There is a time for "let go and let god" and "be still" and all that other religious, Zen and/or yoga-inspired advice. I even believe in most of it in the right circumstances. But don't live your whole life that way. Be fierce, use your voice, make your presence known. It's a loud, busy, madcap world. Stand up and be noticed. People laugh at the crazy dude on the street corner preaching about alien invasions or god or whatever, but at least he knows what the hell he believes in and is living it loudly. What do you believe in? What gets your blood pumping and gives you a reason to live? I can't hear you. Stop whispering. Shout it out loud. Take a stand. Everyone should know what you believe in-- but first, you have to know yourself.
6. Drive your own car. This thing you call your life? It's not about your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parents, children, boss, fans, stalker, best friend, worst enemy or some deity, so don't hand the keys over to any of them, okay? It's about you. It's your name on the driver's license, after all. It's okay to let God be your co-pilot, if that's your particular bent, but you shouldn't be riding shotgun in your own life and you sure as hell shouldn't be taking a nap in the back seat. Climb behind the wheel, adjust the mirrors and drive that sucker yourself like you own it-- 'cause you do-- and don't be afraid of voiding the warranty. Even if you end up going over a cliff, at least it will be your choice to hit the gas instead of the break and not something that just happened to you because someone else thought it was a good idea.
7. Love the one you're with. No, I'm not talking about other people. I'm talking about you. That body you live in, that mind you use, that heart that loves and breaks and beats. Love yourself. Stop saying you'll be happy when you get the degree, lose the extra weight, find your soulmate or the perfect career. Love who you are, today, right now. Not to be morbid, but you could be dead tomorrow. Don't spend today hating yourself for having a cupcake for breakfast and taking a nap instead of reading the latest Supreme Court ruling. Love yourself and all of your flaws and quirks. You are (as someone I know is fond of saying) a special snowflake. So act like it, damn it, and stop being your own worst enemy.
8. Be Sarah Connor. Remember the Terminator? Remember Linda Hamilton as the soft, feather-haired Sarah Connor and how she turned into a badass mama when it all hit the fan? It's fine and good to love yourself, but don't just sit there on your own self-indulgent cloud thinking that you've got life by the tail because you had a cupcake for breakfast and took a two hour nap. Tomorrow is coming and it's bringing a storm. Toughen up, sister (or brother). Remember that cockroach analogy? Tomorrow might bring Armageddon and the Terminator. Or maybe it'll bring more cupcakes and another nap. The point is, we don't know! Whatever tomorrow brings, learn, adapt, survive and thrive. Say to life, "Bring it!" and be willing to take whatever it throws your way.
I will conclude with this caveat: Don't be an asshole. My life lessons on kindness, gentleness, humility, compassion, generosity of spirit and loving thy neighbor even if thy neighbor is batshit crazy will have to wait for another day. Today, I'm feeling badass. Just like Sarah Connor. The storm is coming and I'm ready. Are you?