Good advice

Oct 11th
Posted by shambo  as Aging, Culture, Language


Let me say this about that.

As a young man, I was always interested in hearing the advice of my elders.¬† I figured that if they lived to be that old, they must know a few things, otherwise they would not have lived long enough to be…….well, old.¬† I did not always heed this advice, at my own peril most of the time, but I always was glad to hear the old folk’s perspective.¬† Much of this advice must be tempered by understanding the perspective of the person giving it.¬† For example;

“If it ain’t broke, improve it.”

I learned this philosophy by spending half a decade in the best Systems Engineering schools in the country.¬† So, it’s not surprising that the credibility of the advice is unquestioned and I made my living for 35 years doing just that…improving things.

But sometimes I got advice from folks that did not have the veracity of the first example. This gem came from my grandmother who never went to high school, much less graduated:

“Never go near the water until you learn how to swim.”

I had an uncle who was perpetually in trouble with any sort of authority figure, including the police.¬† He taught me something that saved…¬†¬†¬† my bacon the first time I got stopped by the police for DUI.¬† It also came in handy everytime I thought I had something clever to say. Out of the need to maintain some¬†degree of class in this blog, I have modified the advice a¬† little:

“Never pass up a chance to ‘Fut-The-Shuck-Up’.¬† “

My grandfather was a pretty smart guy, in a simple, down-to-earth kind of way.  He gave me some advice once that never made too much sense until I got into my sixties.  Today, it makes all the sense in the world. To wit:

“Once a King, always a King.¬† But, once a Knight is enough.”

In 2003, I was elected to the City Council¬†of the small village in which I still live.¬† I had never been directly involved in the public sector, I had recently retired from the private sector, so I said ‘What the Hell’, I’ll give it a try.¬† Big mistake.¬† I have never experienced so many people speaking about so many subjects with so little knowledge in my life.¬† Doing anything constructive was fought tooth-and-nail by local politicians just to hear the sound of their own voice.¬† I preserved my sanity by heeding the advice of George Bernard Shaw:

“Never fight with pigs because you will get dirty.¬† And, the pigs like it.”

Most guys find it unnecessary to stop and ask for directions when they become lost or can’t find a place they want to go.¬† I count myself among this brotherhood.¬† This drives my wife to complete distraction.¬† But when she complains, I¬†¬†repeat the¬†advice I got some¬†years ago¬†from an old drunk sitting in a Mexican bar:

“Never stop and ask directions.¬† You’ll just be late¬†getting to¬†a place you don’t want to go.”

Yeah, I’m still working on that one myself.¬† The next temporal pearl of wisdom came from the same uncle that was referenced earlier.¬† Now, the LMSTAT lady readers might recoil at this advice, but just remember it came from a man of the street.¬† I only repeat it here to illustrate the eclectic nature of advice you receive from your elders. My uncle’s advice pertained to dating women:

“Women are like dog turds.¬† The older they get, the easier they are to pick up.”

And finally, a bit of wisdom from a great leader of men who was my mentor:

“Life is a lot like dog sled racing.¬† Only the lead dog gets a change of scenery.”

And, that’s all I have to say about that.





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