Michael Apollo Lira
Last year, a dear friend of mine (Boyan the Bard) also turned 40.
For his birthday, a small group of talented and loving friends from our college years got together to celebrate. Back in college, we were a tight knit group of martial arts zealots who shared a vision of impacting the world in our own unique and individual ways. Over the years, we have kept in touch and continued to encourage one another through life’s endeavors.
For his birthday, my friend tasked the group with an assignment. The project was titled 20/40/60.
In his words:
"Part 1 is kind of easy. Write down something you wish you had done differently when you were about 20 years old. Like what advice would you give your younger self. No wrong answers. It could be short like: “save up for a house” or “be nicer to people” or “be more adventurous.” Or it could be a really specific thing like “buy stock in Amazon” or “don’t drink and drive on this specific date” or whatever. Just write anything you wish you could change about the past from when you were about 20 years old and save it.
Then part 2 is we each need to ask someone who is about 60 years old or older, the same question but for what they would change when they were about 40 years old. Could be a parent or co-worker or whatever. Write down their answer and save it.
Once we all have this done, I will set up a Zoom call where we can share the answers…I think the answers we get might be useful to all of us in our ongoing life choices."
I’d like to share with you the advice that resulted from this project.
These answers came from friends, colleagues, family members, and acquaintances within our group. Advice obviously varied, depending on experience and lessons learned from the individuals. Advice can say just as much about its provider as its message. My hope to you is that somewhere within the coming advice, you find something that means something important to you.
Advice I would give my 20-year-old self:
Your lessons are your lessons. It’s hard to know if anything should change, since there is value in even bad experiences. But please try not to give the benefit of the doubt to the wrong people in life. That is something you can pay for over and over, with repeated bad outcomes.
One friend (who is now a parent) really made me stop and think when he described what he would tell his 20-year-old self. He said he would try to find a way to stop terrible events – specifically things like the Sandy Hook Shooting.
A common theme repeated during our 20/40 group discussion was investment – putting away some money and investing for the future when we were younger.
Advice from 60-year-old people to their 40-year-old selves:
"I wish that if I could go back...I'd tell myself that I need to be more selfish. I've always put other people before me - work, family, etc. Be more selfish. I've always come out on the short end of the stick or taken advantage of. I am overly empathetic...probably from being raised by two parents who had no love or empathy. I swung the other way. I'd wish for either that, or to lose some of my conscience."
Stu - a radiology technologist:
Invest, invest, invest, invest, invest.
Work out and take care of your health - so much so that it becomes a part of your routines and habits. When you're 60, that's the decade it all catches up to you. Act like you have diabetes and you never will. You're going to live longer than you think you will, so why not live longer well? I've seen friends not do well.
Read. Read, read, read. Go to the library at least two times a week. Sit for an hour with newspapers or books. Be aware. People ignore the news. But we're citizens of the world; we're global now, everything is linked.
Be nice to people - even those you don't have to be nice to. It just improves who you are.
One thing I've realized: stuff that I thought was important in my twenties means fucking nothing. It's a joke now. My priorities were all wrong and discombobulated.
Education. I wish I'd focused more on that; I've got two associates degrees, I've taken some classes. Never stop learning.
Todd – interviewed for his 60th birthday:
"Life is about experiences, loved ones, memories. People ask "would you go back?” But you'd lose it all! Nope. I've earned these years and I'm sticking with them. I'm looking forward to the future. I wouldn't change a thing."
Invest in family and friends more than career. I spent so many years of my life putting in an incredible number of hours and times into work. I am proud of what I accomplished but ultimately it pales in comparison to the investment you make in relationships of friends and family.
On a related note, don’t take work too seriously. Yes, work hard. Do big things. Make an impact. But much of what we do in our work life is not life and death.
Read broadly and find thinkers and people who have different perspectives and ideas.
Find friends and family who think differently than you do.
On the money side, compound interest is amazing and really adds up. Stay within spending limits and don't try to keep up with the Jonses. We don't need nearly as much as society and advertising makes us think that we need.
On the faith side, I believe we are put here for a reason. Search for "God" and read what the best thinkers on this topic have written and pondered.
Stay humble. When people are asked if they are always right, almost everyone says they are not. But almost all of us think that we are right about 90% of things. Something does not add up with those numbers! There is much more that we don't understand and see than we are led to believe.
[Everyday] Do nothing. Find some time to just do nothing. TRUST ME. 20 years from now, that 10, 15, 60 minutes of doing nothing will SAVE YOU from becoming resentful of the world and will allow time for simple or deep contemplation, or mind-numbing silliness.
[Finances] Money doesn't buy happiness, but it can buy freedom. Use your money wisely. Use your money for what you REALLY want- travel and experiences.
[Work] Jobs will come and go. You will always figure out ways to make money but what you want to focus on is finding out what you want to spend your life DOING. What makes you happy? What makes you forget the clock and your obligations? What do you lose yourself in and at the same time find yourself? Do that. Do that thing as often as you can. Do it unapologetically. Don't expect it to make money for you, that's not what it's for. That thing is for you - to keep you sane, happy, and human.
[Citizenship] I knew this but it's worth reiterating - be kind. To everyone. We're on the same team, even if the other person has forgotten that fact.
Everything and everyone on this planet is connected. It's a closed loop system. What you do affects others and what they do affects you - consider how many times you trust people every time you leave the house, driving down the street, ordering food at a restaurant. Consider how many times you trust the planet to give you what you need - clean air, fresh water, warm nourishing sunlight. IT'S A SYSTEM!
Bill Nye (Yes, that Bill Nye. The Science Guy.)
“You’re doing okay.
Worry less about everything.
You’re doing just fine!”
I hope something said in there found you. I hope it gave pause, made you think, reflect, ponder, or simply chew on the subject matter. This is a time of the year when many of us reflect, and it can be easy to feel caught up and overwhelmed or lost when doing that sometimes. But friends and neighbors aren’t far, and they themselves very well could be in a similar boat. As the wise Tyler Durden once said, “we are all a part of the same compost heap”.
May your year ahead be a little brighter with the light we share, dear reader.
I’ll finish with a piece of advice my father recently gave me:
Love is something you must act on every day to the people that matter to you. Love doesn’t happen passively. It’s something you choose to do.
What advice would you give to yourself?
#Advice #Life #Wisdom #Reflection #Family #Friends #BillNye #Love #Birthday #BoyanTheBard
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