Dear Class of 2020:
Sad circumstance has cheated most of you out of a crucial rite of passage. Namely, gathering in a poorly-ventilated public place, dressed in a funky bathrobe and a funny hat , and listening to some old fuddy-duddy impart what he or she thinks is wisdom.
This isn’t right. You worked hard to get to the place where you can be bored to tears by an old fuddy-duddy. So consider me your proxy old fuddy-duddy .(Go ahead. Put the funky bathrobe and funny hat on. Who’s gonna see?)
I feel the need to warn you beforehand that being old doesn’t necessarily make you wise. And there’s my first pearl of wisdom.
Let’s see what other wisdom I gots.
Let’s start with, “Righty, tighty, lefty loosey.” Chuckle if you will, but tightening and loosening stuff is going to occupy a lot of your life. Best get it right.. (Oddly enough, this rule does not pertain to the installation or removal of bicycle pedals. I don’t know why.)
Also,. remember to rotate your tires and change your oil regularly. Regular maintenance is a lot cheaper than paying for negligence. (That’s a metaphor.)
Use technology wisely. Technology is dandy, but it can easily enslave you. Don’t let it dominate you. Put the devices down and just experience life every once in a while. Life is meant to be lived, not filmed and downloaded to Instagram. You will survive being offline every once in a while. I repeat, you WILL survive.
Also, don’t engage internet trolls and/or real world haters. Arguing with trolls and haters is definitely like wrestling a pig. (You just get dirty and smelly and the pig likes it.) However, learn the difference between a hater and a sincere critic, and remember, you’ll find more truth in criticism than you will in praise.
Want to be really smart? Well, the smartest people in creation are the people who know what they don’t know. The wisest people are those who are courageous enough to admit they don’t know, and the most effective people are those who aren’t afraid to defer to people who do know.
Smart isn’t everything, though. The best people in the world are unabashedly kind, imminently humble, unfailingly patient, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and rarely if ever hold grudges. You cannot achieve all this all the time, but aspiring to achieve them is crucial to happiness.
The most powerful forces in the world are faith and love. Faith literally moves mountains and love binds us.Conversely, the most destructive forces are hatred, greed, fear and envy. More often than not, they travel as a quartet and with them, it’s almost always about money.
When life tosses lemons at you, make some lemon squares or lemon drops or, if you must be cliche, lemonade. Darwin was wrong. Life isn’t survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most adaptive.
Consider this: Cockroaches and dinosaurs existed at the same time. One was huge and fit and the other was puny and adaptive. When was the last time someone decided not to rent an apartment because they saw a tyrannosaurus rex scurry across the kitchen floor?
Above all else, though, enjoy your youth. It vanishes in a heartbeat. Decide now what kind of old person you want to be. Will you wake up one morning years from now thinking, “I wish I would have…” or will you say, “I’m glad I did…” The choice, ultimately, is all yours.
And remember, history books are full of people who did what no one thought could be done. No one made history for saying, “Let’s just wait and see what happens.”
Also, don’t ridicule those who try big things and fail. They tried, they took the field. What did you do?
And finally let me leave you with my favorite literary quote. It’s from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s novel, “Breakfast of Champions.”
“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”
Go forth and be all kinds of humane!
Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.