In less than a week I will be 50 years old, and I gotta tell ya, it does make you think, ponder, wonder, evaluate, remember and reflect on where you are in life and what you want to do with the time you have left. It’s almost cliched, except that this time, it’s happening to me, which makes it feel important and profound. So I wanted to take a few minutes and write down a few brief (Ha!) lessons from my 50 years walking on this planet.
Year 1: The world revolves around me. Or it should anyway. I can’t do a dang thing for myself.
Year 2: Hey, I think I like this older brother guy. He’s alright. The new baby? Um, not so much. He takes the attention that is supposed to be mine.
Year 3: This seeing thing? It’s pretty amazing. And there’s only one of everything. Except sometimes there are more. So that’s confusing.
Year 4: Flowers are really pretty and I love them.
Year 5: My kindergarten teacher is mean, but there is a machine where I can buy tomato soup for lunch and I like that.
I’m sure I learned a whole bunch of cool stuff between 5 and now, but I’m gonna have to zip things along if we’re gonna reach 50 lessons, okay?
6. Cruel words last a lifetime. Try to say none of them.
7. Sorry is only difficult to say the first 100 times or so, then you figure out you are never going to be perfect and it gets much easier.
8. Apologize frequently and often.
9. Forgive easily and early. And mean it. Hold no grudges.
10. No matter how great that boy is, don’t skip family events for him…at least until he IS family.
11. No matter how much you love your girlfriends, you may not know them in 20 years. You will still know your sister. Be nice to her.
12. Your parents are probably even more screwed up than you, so forgive them.
13. You’re human. Deal with it.
14. The most important thing in life is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, three in one.
15. Focus on beauty, goodness, truth and excellence. There is always someone to focus on garbage. Don’t let that be you.
16. Weddings optional: Funerals are mandatory.
17. Don’t begrudge someone else their happiness and good fortune.
18. Choose to be happy.
19. Learn to be happy.
20. Read good books.
21. Listen to great music.
22. Play an instrument if you can. You never know if you don’t try.
23. Don’t throw everything away. Repair rather than replace, if you can. Enjoy the pleasure of the well-worn.
24. That does NOT include underwear.
25. Help others whenever you can.
26. Prepare yourself to be able to help others.
27. Entertain readily.
28. Marry well and then encourage the heck out of that other person, for they are flawed and will make mistakes. Berating them won’t make that better.
29. Work hard, work cheerfully and work well.
30. Cheerfully give your tithes and offerings and give to the poor.
31. Be content. It’s a learned skill, and SO worth it.
32. Always keep learning.
33. You will get busy in life. Schedule times and ways to keep in touch with friends and family.
34. Children are a blessing. Enjoy them, forgive them and show them lots of mercy.
35. Judging others is easy. Don’t.
36. Listen to the wind.
37. Watch the grass grow.
38. Feel the sand between your toes.
39. Smell the flowers.
40. Have a pet and take good care of them.
41. Make each day a celebration and each trip an adventure.
42. Pray always.
43. Try new things.
44. Eat healthy foods.
45. Walk, run, ski, swim, bike, dance, MOVE.
46. Visit your grandparents. You won’t always have them.
47. Show appreciation to everyone. Say THANK YOU.
49. Speak GOOD things about others. No gossip.
50. I’m still working on a lot of these and this last one was said about Abraham Lincoln, and I hope to have it be true of me: he was a better person each day than he was the day before. So, may I be better today than I was yesterday, and may I be tomorrow, better than I am today. More honest, more caring, more giving, more kind, more loving, more gentle, more faithful, more honorable, more disciplined, More. In that way we honor our Creator, our families, our friends and ourselves.