Life lessons learned so far:
Be kind – It takes more strength to return selfishness and anger with kindness and empathy than it does to lash back at the person or try to prove you’re right. This doesn’t mean you are obligated to subject yourself to cruelty from others but returning anger with anger or hate with hate doesn’t produce anything of value.
Don’t judge others for superficial things – You rarely know what other people are going through, or what their true intentions are, and we all see the world a little differently, so putting other people down because they are different from you won’t actually make you feel better or solve any of your own problems.
Fear is often a liar – Back when we were primal creatures fear was an integral and much needed emotion to keep people alive. However, now that we have much easier access to food, shelter, and society (most people, not all, there’s still lots of poverty and war) fear is bored and it likes to manifest in insecurities that cause people to lash out at others. Projecting your fears onto someone else doesn’t make your own insecurities go away. Pushing people away before they can potentially hurt you in the future doesn’t protect you, just keeps you isolated. Fear has its place, usually to keep you from doing dangerous things that could kill you, but often it’s just lying to you and ultimately causing you to miss out on amazing people and experiences. Learn to recognize when fear is useful and when it’s just fucking with you.
Money is nice but it isn’t the most important thing in life – Money is a tool that you can use to trade for goods and services, to travel and experience new cultures, to provide a sense of security for everyday living. However, it is an arbitrary item that we all just agree has value, it’s an inanimate item that can not provide you with authentic love or happiness long term. It is worth having but shouldn’t be your sole focus in life.
No one is perfect and life needs balance – You will fuck up plenty in your life. You make mistake so you can learn what not to do. Your mistakes do not define you, but your repeated actions do. Eventually you have to make a choice about the kind of person you want to be. Some people will be destructive (usually because they’ve experienced trauma or weren’t taught any other way) others will be constructive and strive to create general goodness in the world, but without the contrast how could we define one or the other. Many people will be a mix of both good and bad over their lifetime depending on external factors and internal feelings. Indulging in questionable choices or vices, when they don’t negatively impact others and are done in moderation, can provide a balance that helps you figure out who you are.
Life is less stressful the more open minded you are – When you don’t close yourself off to new ideas, new experiences, or new people you don’t have to waste your time freaking out about anything that differs from your pre conceived notions or pulls you from your comfort zone. Instead the sense of security you get from having a vast store of knowledge lets you face life with confidence and fortitude. You also get in less fights or pointless arguments with people online.
When you love, do it unconditionally – Love, real love, doesn’t come with conditions. Again, this doesn’t mean you subject yourself to abuse in the name of love, but learning how to love another person regardless of their flaws is one of the greatest experiences in life. Having the strength to be open and vulnerable with another person and to have them feel safe enough to do the same…fucking magic right there.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well – I’m not sure how much explaining this needs, but basically it always feels better to take pride in what you’re doing.
Leave the world and people better than you found it/them – Don’t shit where you eat. Don’t destroy the planet you depend on for survival. United we stand and divided we fall. Building others up is more beneficial than tearing them down. Lead by example. Pet all the soft furry domesticated animals that are friendly.
You are never done learning – I get the irony of listing this in contrast to my title but I already understand that for as much as I know, in relation to all knowledge I know barely anything and each day will bring new information, new ideas, and new ways to accomplish things. That being said, please do share the life lessons I’m missing because I’d love to add them to my list.
My old man cat, he’s almost 15, I’ve started noticing similar symptoms in him to what one of my previous old lady cats had. Most likely hyperthyroidism, meds and treatment might get me another year or so with him, but basically there’s a countdown now. On his bad days all he wants to do is curl up on me and sleep. I guess that even when they’re not human children, when they don’t feel well, they still just want their mom.
Meanwhile, coming to terms with another impending loss is something I don’t even want to contemplate.
I’ve actually been doing really well, emotionally, lately. Finally working through years of repressed grief and trauma had allowed me to reconnect with myself, and merge the optimistic person I used to be with the desensitized person I’d become. I hope that watching another beloved pet shut down in front of my eyes doesn’t derail my progress. It’s exhausting being sad all the time.