It’s like Tuesday. Just like that. Like 04 October 2011 and junk. I’m producing things from my brain again, but let’s just say that if my brain was a reservoir, it hasn’t rained in a while, and it’s in danger of running low. But I’ve always got a couple of ideas floating around in there. I don’t know why this is the case, but you always have more ideas, a few more things. You’ve always got one more trick up your sleeve. Or I do, I don’t know about you. I switch pronouns a lot, don’t I? I’ll say “I” this, and then change to “you” that in midsentence. I just don’t want you to think I’m telling you what to do or think. I am, I just don’t want you to think that.
I thought I would hate the rain a lot – and don’t get me wrong, I do – but the cold? Jesus. I hate that. I hate it because of the extra time it takes – you have to take up an extra 15 minutes. Ohio is a swing state in many, many ways, but one of them is weather. You don’t know from one second to the next what the weather is going to be. Ohio weathermen have the easiest jobs in the world. They can forecast the weather and be wrong, incredibly wrong, and people won’t care, because no one can tell you what the weather is going to be like here. You can wake up one morning, and your car windows are clear. You can wake up the next morning, and they’re wet with dew. You can wake up the next morning and they’re all frosted over. Clearly the key here is not to wake up in the morning. Work with me, universe!
But that’s life, isn’t it? In general, you know that a lot of different things are going to happen. You know what most of these things are. And you might even be prepared for some of them, but still they catch you off guard. You know what’s cool about life and preparation (that doesn’t come in a tube)? That people prepare for the worst, but they never really prepare for the best. “Oh my god. I found extra money this week. I’m going to be able to pay all my bills!” Nobody ever prepares for that. “Oh no, I know exactly what to wear!” Or “man, this woman really turned out to be a decent person that I plan on seeing again.” No one ever prepares for it, so you almost always get caught off guard by happiness. That fact in and of itself is sad, that you don’t expect to be happy. But it has a really great unintended side effect, and that is the highs you get from the surprise unexpected happiness are much higher than they would be if you expected them. The disappointment is minimized because you don’t expect it.
There are two metaphors I use all the time – the target and the hurdle. A lot of people think that you have to hit the bullseye of the target to be happy in a relationship, or a career, or any task or situation. In a few situations that applies – like if you are a sniper, you would certainly want to hit what you’re aiming at. Unless you’re a marksman or championship darts player, the bullseye is very hard to hit. The red ring around the bullseye is hard to hit. Hell, for some people the entire board is hard to hit. But that’s a metaphor for perfection. It’s the bullseye or nothing.
A much better metaphor is the hurdle. The hurdle represents the things you require, the minimum you will accept, in a given situation. It’s much less pressure, and much calmer. Wherever you’re at, and whatever you’re doing, you just have to clear that hurdle. Can’t be any lower – but it can be higher. If something clears the hurdle by a millimeter – good enough, if you’ve set your hurdle high enough. If it clears the hurdle by ten feet, great – you’ll be happier, maybe. But just clearing it is good enough.
I have learned a lot of things over the years, and a lot of them have been the hard way. And the most important thing I’ve learned is: don’t learn things the hard way. The hard way is you do something, and you experience it, and you fail, and you’re crushed or humiliated or hurt, and you learn not to do that thing again. Or you learn that you should have done this other thing. But once you learn not to learn things the hard way, you get just as much wisdom, but you get less heartache. Some people might think that it’s the act of failing, of being crushed or humiliated or shocked or hurt that grants you the wisdom. But that’s not true. It grants you intelligence, and more clues on how to live your life, and gives you a better guide. But there’s no reason why that guide has to come from your experience – it can certainly come from someone else’s experience.
Take dating. If you keep picking a string of the same kind of people…. speaking of learning from someone else’s experience. I used to keep a journal a long time ago until it started becoming a pain in the ass, and one day years later I was reading it, flipping through the pages, and I was talking about a girl. How she was treating me, what she was doing to me, how our relationship was bad. I thought it was Girl A, so I was reading it the whole time with Girl A in mind, because what I was reading meshed with my memories of this girl. Eventually, I used her name in the journal, and it turned out I had been talking about Girl B the whole time. That blew my mind! I thought everything I was reading was about Girl A! I was intrigued by this. I started flipping through this thing, and I discovered that in my late teens/early 20s, all the girls I had dated resulted in the same exact experience.
This meant one of two things – either I was screwing up and sabotaging relationships unintentionally or subconsciously, or that I could not choose a suitable girlfriend for shit. Looking back, what I should have done was poll my friends to see how she interacted with them, what their opinions of her were, and then have them advise me on whether I should continue dating her. My friends know me, more objectively than I know myself, and could probably advise me better on who I should be with. And that is learning from other people’s experience – at least, their experience with me.
This is true of all areas of life – if you’re stuck in a rut, learn from other people’s mistakes, and other people’s experiences, and set up your list of things you can’t do without, and things you can’t do with. That’s your bar. Accept nothing lower than the bar – I assume you could accept nearly everything above it, and by accept I mean try, not necessarily commit. Maybe expect a little happiness. The disappointment resulting from expectation of happiness and not getting it will be your first clue that whatever you’re doing or whoever it is you’re doing it with, is not something you should be doing, or someone you should be doing.
The knob just fell off my heater. No, that’s not a euphemism. In my car, the knob that controls my heater just fell off. There’s a custom faceplate for the aftermarket stereo, and it doesn’t quite fit. Sometimes things don’t fit, and they’re a little harder to work with, but they work. Just like a relationship. Can I turn anything into a metaphor? Yes I can.
…I can take a rainbow, cover it with dew…