Last Tuesday I turned 33. It was a decent day; I had a whole box of presents from Ryan, Jess, and the kids — and Jess made me a very delicious chocolate cake. Yum. And my mother took me out for breakfast and forgave an outstanding “mom loan,” which was very nice.
Yet the tick of another year on life’s odometer does give one pause. As is turning into my habit, I offer a few reflections on my key learnings from the year now gone.
- “Family” is about never turning your back, no matter what.
- The only way to truly understand another is to see the world from behind his eyes. Our experiences give us a perspective, and this perspective colors what is real, for us. Only by making the effort to understand this viewpoint can we be truly capable of empathy without pity.
- Never underestimate the abject and mean-spirited pettiness of those who feel themselves wronged. Especially when no wrong was committed! I look at some of the things Edmund said and did, for example, and I have to wonder how anyone can sink so low and behave so cruelly — and for what? What good came of any of it?
- Similarly, people will find a way to rationalize away their encounters with honest-to-goodness moral evil. They will avert their gaze, or compartmentalize it clinically, but they will not see it for what it is.
- It’s never too late to be a friend. I was a highly disengaged friend for Duane after he left for California (and then Korea), but after helping him get a job in Michigan, I’m looking forward to having him crash at my apartment for the next month or so until he gets himself settled in his own home. Yeah, shame on me for not being the most careful tender of our friendship while he was gone, yet I hope it counts for something that I’m opening my doors to him now that he’s back.
- The pursuit of excellence is hard … but it’s worth it.
- Always take the time to notice when someone works hard to meet your expectations.
- There are a lot of fucked-up people in this world, people who suffer from vicious personal demons. This often affects their ability to be a friend, or a co-worker — and it universally affects their ability to be honest. As I’ve put out feelers every so often over the last year to expand my social circle (e.g., with Tim or Aaron), the initial nice-guy demeanor and earnestness about how stable and rooted their personalities are, ended up evaporating in a flash of bitterness or self-doubt. There aren’t all that many people who are capable of balancing their demons within against the need to be a decent human being in public.
- Inquisitiveness and open-mindedness are as rare as they are refreshing, which is why I like Charlie and Rick so much.
- Sometimes, bringing things to an end — painful though it may be — is the most necessary and most healthy way to deal with problems.
Let’s hope Year 33 is decent.