Suffering the rigors of basic training in the Army a week after my 17th birthday, I did not have the pleasure of a commencement address.
Believe me when I say one does not join the Army at 17 because one is setting the world on fire. If I could go back and give myself a commencement address I would offer myself the following advice:
The great philosopher Roger Miller said, “You cannot rollerskate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to.” Have fun. In life you will find those who choose to be unhappy. Resist the urge to play practical jokes on them. It never ends well.
If you look around the poker table and you cannot see the sucker, guess what? You are the sucker.
Keep your lies to a minimum. Those who say one should never lie obviously are single. When your better half asks you whether some hot babe is pretty, the answer is, “She is not my type.” She expects the lie. It is her way of making sure the leash she has you on is secure.
Whoever created life put us on a trail and for some reason or another throws a boulder down it occasionally to keep us on our toes. These are just problems of varying degrees. Though it is pointless to pray for no boulders, it is permissible and probably wise to pray for time between the boulders. I always have gratitude for the time between the boulders. It is also a great time to party.
Jesus said to stay away from angry people. Anger just means you are not getting what you want. When you meet someone who is angry all the time, what you have found is a selfish jerk. Jesus was a pretty smart fella.
The great Joseph Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: “Follow your bliss.”
There were times in my life that I played in some of the toughest high stakes rubber bridge games in the world seven days a week for months at a time. Playing contract bridge for money is legal in California. Most of the games were to pay the rent. Some were special, with world champions and the like. I more than held my own, and I loved it.
We all have to suit up for life. The secret is to find something you love to suit up for.
When wrong, promptly admit it, make amends and move on. Accept the fact you are going to mess up.
Besides the obvious, there are two major benefits if one makes this a habit. Knowing you are going to be responsible for what you say keeps the “make amends” part down to a minimum. My nephew said it best: “When it is time to react, don’t.”
The other is when someone really messes you over and you make amends to them for your part, it really drives them crazy if they are refusing to address their part. I should not enjoy their discomfort, but it is just one of my many character defects.
I was whining to my sister about something so important that I forgot what it was. She said that I have already won the lottery. I said,”How?” She said, “Six million sperm, one egg.” The good Lord cannot mess me over, for he has given me too much already.
My favorite fictional character is Gus McCrae of “Lonesome Dove.” He loved women, whiskey and talking philosophy. His last words were: “What a party.” There is nothing more important than gratitude and a real appreciation of the gifts we are given.
When people do good work, praise them. I know I like it when on the receiving end. This is very important, especially with your enemies. You will do this because it is true and is the right thing to do. Your enemy will, of course, stay up nights wondering what you are up to. Not your problem.
Having good friends who will tell you the truth and give good advice is a good idea. When I want to strangle some idiot, they always tell me “no.” I may not agree with them all of the time, but so far they have kept me out of jail. As Wayne Dyer said, “Friends are God’s gift to make up for the relatives he gave you.”
When I listen, I never get into trouble. Many times I learn important things, and sometimes, when a friend is hurting, just listening to them is the most helpful thing I can do. Why do I insist on talking so much? Good question.
Wayne Dyer said, “In every moment of every day we only have two choices: Act out of love or act out of fear.” It seems to me that is the basis of most spiritual traditions and everything else is just commentary.
When I am in the misdt of chaos and feel the need to trust the universe, I think about women and avocados. Surely they were created by something wonderful and wise. Giving women the impossible task of civilizing men proves that humor was involved.
John Lucas of Lodi is a raconteur and retired truck driver.