Monday, May 5, 2008

I Am Now the Old Speed Limit:

I turned 55 today. “Ain’t so bad!” as Rocky Balboa once said to Apollo Creed as Apollo kept punching Rocky into a near coma.

My blood tests reveal that my bad cholesterol is indeed bad, but everyone else in my physical domain has been behaving himself. What have I learned during this old speed limit life? Or, to put it another way, who are you, as the Caterpillar queried Alice from atop his mushroom? Let me put it yet another way: Who the hell cares what I’ve learned?

That’s a good question, Alice.

1. Work is terribly important—if you’re doing something that you really love. If not, then it’s important only insofar as it provides you with a place to sleep that’s not under a bridge and food to eat that’s not out of a garbage can.

2. Love is extremely important. You have to love someone enough to share nightly television habits that won’t drive both of you crazy. You have to love someone enough to worry that he/she doesn’t drive off to work on an empty gas tank. You have to love someone enough to care whether you shower regularly. You have to love someone enough to want to share with them the first cup of Joe in the morning.

3. Beauty. You have to love and appreciate beauty, the way you love and appreciate truth because, as Keats once said, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. You’ve got to approach beauty the way you would step on a scale at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. Gingerly. But with an anticipation of rapture and dread.

4. Never speed. You know damn well that you’ve got no particular place to go that’s all that important.

5. Be polite, when possible. In general, people are mean sons of bitches but they’re more likely to show common decency if you don’t immediately antagonize them.

6. Sit quietly at meetings at work. It doesn’t matter whether the new proposal is insane nonsense. There will be newer, and even more insane brands of nonsense next month, or next year. You’re not going to stop any of it. Relax. Think about your favorite hits from the 70s. That will keep your mind occupied and alert.

7. Don’t regret things you never did. Hell, you know you weren’t going to do them anyway.

8. Happiness is fleeting. Coffee is forever.

That’s what I’ve learned. If you don’t like it, well… okay, I’m not going to get upset about it. Life’s short, man.

Donald Gallinger is the author of The Master Planets

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