Volume 59: The Handbook of Life

Posted on 07/19/2011

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Sometimes it feels like a game, doesn't it?

Welcome back to this week’s version of Sillethoughts. Before we get into the topic, I’d like to share some exciting news with you. I am diligently working on building the content for expanding this blog into a fully interactive website dedicated to helping people maximize their lives. I’m excited because the site will afford me the opportunity to help people move from insight to action. So, while many of you enjoy reading the blog and incorporating my musings into your own; many might want some more directive methods on how to become a better person. The website will offer both; thus, my excitement. That brings me to how I was inspired for this post.

I was having another philosophical debate regarding my opinion that people should have to be licensed to have a child. I take the stance that, if you have to have a license to drive, fish, hunt, get married, etc.; then, why couldn’t/wouldn’t “they” come up with a way to license people to have a child? I mean, isn’t raising a child one of (if not THE) most important things you’ll do as an adult? And, isn’t it poor parenting that contributes to many of the societal ills that plague us? Anyway, I’m making my argument again and you haven’t even said you disagree with me, LOL! However, it was the argument that got me to thinking: What other things do we encounter as adults that we are not fully prepared for as we are growing? I’ve said on more than one occasion, “Man, if I’d know this before…”. I pondered this past week: Wouldn’t it be nice if life came with a handbook? I mean school, work, cars – hell, even PlayStations have handbooks – but the toughest thing you do (Life) doesn’t have one? So, I decided that I’m going to venture off into the land of make believe (shout out to Mr. Rogers) and describe those things that need to be in The Handbook of Life.

Early Years (Birth to 12)

This would be the shortest part of the handbook. It’s short primarily because half of this time you can’t even read, LOL! This part of the handbook would mostly be filled with warnings. For example, like the time I thought it was possible to jump off the roof of my house using a garbage bag as a parachute. My life handbook would have explicitly stated that this was one of the dumbest ideas on earth at the time, and directed me to a more useful exercise of my imagination. Or the time I thought it would be cool to take a squirt gun that looked like an Uzi into Disney World with me. That bit of stupidity got me an unwelcomed behind-the-scenes tour of the park. If I’d checked the handbook, I don’t think that would have been an approved activity. (Side note: I’m just glad I did that prior to Columbine or 9/11. Otherwise, my handbook might have stopped right there.) Finally, the early years would have explained the strange feelings I’m having as I approach puberty. It could answer, why am I suddenly attracted to the very people I ran from because they had “cooties?” Or, why were we all the same size one year, then the next year everyone else grew but me? My handbook would have really been handy then.

Yes I did, LOL!

Adolescence (Ages 12-20)

I extend adolescence to 20 because that’s what many “experts” report. Lay people tend to think of that time as just being the “teen” years, but some men have extended puberty past the age of 21, so I decided to split the difference. Anyway, this section of the handbook would answer a lot of ‘why’ questions. For example, why do girls say they want an nice guy, but date the boys that treat them the worst? Or, why does God have such a sense of humor that he decided puberty was a good time to introduce us to pimples and acne? Or even, why do I get that uneasy feeling in my stomach when that particular girl walks into the room? The handbook could also tell you that listening to your friends during this time frame could be hazardous to your health. There are many laws that have been fractured as a result of being “boosted up” by my supportive, yet unwilling, comrads. Yes, my friends, the whys of adolescence could have been answered if we had been given our own handbook.

Adulthood (Ages 20 and up)

This section would probably be broken into sub-sections to address ten-year time blocks. Our 20’s are defintely different from our 30’s, and so on. Once the why’s of adolescence have been addressed, the how-to’s of adulthood come into play. For example, how do I get the girl I want to like me because it’s always her less attractive friend that wants to go out? Or how do I explain to my job that there are some days I might not just feel like doing work, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get paid? There are a few why’s associated with adulthood too. Here’s one from earlier: Why didn’t someone tell me that I could be pushing that BMW 745i that I like if I didn’t have a child? Or, why don’t married people really tell you about the ups and downs of marriage until after you get married? Here’s a good one: Why is talking about divorce still so taboo when over 50% of marriages end in divorce? I think if some philosophical and existential questions about adulthood could be addressed by the handbook, we could spend our mental energies on more important issues. I mean, if we answer the tough questions of life, then we could focus on curing cancer, space exploration, balancing the budget, or getting beyond racial differences or stereotypes, couldn’t we?

Conclusion

I’m back from my trip into fantasy land. It was a wonderfully and painfully nostalgic ride. The Handbook of Life is not something that I truly want to exist. Having a handbook would be both extremely helpful and disasterous at the same time. The handbook I just described would’ve served as a “cheat code” for some of the mistakes that I’ve made over the years. However, all mistakes provide lessons. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you how to behave, respond, and react in the future. The future is unknown and, at times, frightening. Having a handbook could serve to reduce and/or eliminate those fears. But fear is also one of the greatest shapers of our behavior. We fear death so we eat right and exercise. We fear God so we’re honest and treat others with love and respect. We fear failing so we get up every morning and take on the challenges of a new day. So while, sadly, life doesn’t come with a handbook; it usually comes with at least one guide. We call thoses guides parents.

That’s just my three cents…

Sill-E

“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”

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