Therapist: “Let’s try a new exercise, mainly because all of the other exercises have failed to get you to emotionally adjust in any satisfactory way. Why don’t we spend the rest of our session with you thinking of things you wished someone had said to you as an adolescent?”
Brian: “Why would I do that? It’s a bit late for that now, don’t you think? My emotional ship has sailed. And then it hit a rock. And it sank.”
Therapist: “Don’t be too quick to judge. Studies have shown that this exercise has a solid history of helping to improve the attitudes of bitter people, no matter what their current age.”
Brian: “Still not buying it. This sounds like something designed to run the clock out so you can charge me the full hourly rate.”
Therapist, consulting patient history: “Ah, I overlooked one of your triggers that will actually get you to open up. Studies have also shown that ‘advice to your younger self’ has proven to be one of the most popular things to write about on blogs, with some bloggers who do so gaining instant fame and a guest appearance on Ellen’s talk show.”
Brian: “I’m on it.”
Brian clears throat.
It’s okay that you lost the dime your father had given you for the ice cream truck. The driver probably didn’t have your favorite flavor that day, anyway.
It’s okay that you really didn’t grasp the concept that your clothes should match for the first few decades of your life. It’s admittedly a giant leap to go from “I’m going to wear this because it’s relatively clean” to “I need to make a statement with my choices”.
Divorce is not about anything you might have done as a child. It’s about adults who come to differing conclusions. You are not the reason; you are the fallout, you are the pawn. Just be strong, and someday you will control the chessboard.
By the way, you will never be very good at chess. Despite the allure of such prowess, you just don’t have the focus. Play solitaire instead and keep the shame private.
There will be a lot of people who think they know what’s best for you. They don’t.
Family is not defined by DNA and legal documents. Family is defined as those who love and support you. Do not feel guilty about making the distinction.
Do not feel guilty about your adoration of cheese. Yes, it’s intrinsically unhealthy, what with the clogging of arteries and such, but we all have our weaknesses and we should all be allowed to embrace a foible or two, even if it involves rigid dairy products.
Yes, you are gay. But you knew that. You’ve always known it. And you’ve never felt bad about that. It’s simply what you are. Your fear has always been those people who don’t understand it’s a birthright and not a choice, and the ways they can cut you because they feel superior. Don’t worry about them. Let it go. They made a choice, not you.
It’s okay that you would go to the local library and check out showtune albums when you were 12. It’s a miracle that such things were available in Oklahoma, and nobody in your sphere of influence (translation: the people with actual finances) was going to waste any money buying something like that for you.
It’s okay that you would put on those bulky headphones from the late 70s and then belt out the showtunes you had just borrowed from the library. Some people get true art, some people don’t. Just like some people don’t appreciate off-key warbling and would slam the door to the room where you were doing an impromptu interpretation of the “Cabaret” original cast recording, Mein Herr.
Attending college will open your eyes to so many things. It will also let you see how many eyes are closed, with supposedly intelligent people unquestioningly adhering to stereotypes and ancient misconceptions. This is the way of the world. The knowledge and insight is right there, burbling from a fountain of truth, but so many choose not to drink, not to acknowledge, not to grow.
You will have an amazing amount of spontaneous and random sex during those college years. This will be partly due to the liberating freedom of making your own choices, partly due to the underage-drinking that is a mainstay of the college experience, but mostly due to your hormones, which are at the peak of their intensity. Embrace it and get it out of your system, because in a few short years the liberation and the intensity and the hormones will dissipate, and most of your focus will be on paying off the student loans that let you have all that sex in the first place.
Do not drop out of college just because you need to go “find yourself” in another state. It will take you decades to work your way up to the salary you could have started at if you’d just toughed it out for a few more semesters. And that new state you move to will be filled with just as many idiots. It’s not where you are; it’s where your mind is.
Do not go see any of the “Star Wars” movies after the first three. They won’t be the same.
Do not agree to go on a first date with anyone named “Marty” or “Mark”. This will lead to relationships that will test your sanity. It will not be worth it. One of them will destroy everything you have written up to that point. You will never get over that, so just say “no” when the invitation is offered.
Buy Microsoft stock as soon as it becomes available. Do not buy Enron stock.
Get over your fear of singing songs around other people as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter what you sound like; it matters that you sing.
The Y2K Bug will prove to be nothing but crap. Your money is safe and no one dies.
You will be tempted so many times to just give in and stop fighting injustice and inequality, because the fight is difficult when there are millions of people on this planet who don’t give a damn about their fellow man. But this is not how you are wired, not your path, and you will never be happy sitting on the sidelines. Keep marching onto the field and grabbing the ball.
Do not grab the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 when it comes out. Something wicked that way burns.
“Pushing Daisies” will become one of your favorite TV shows, but it will be cancelled abruptly after a season and a half because tight-sphinctered executives at the ABC network don’t know how to handle a series that is smart, funny and clever. Prepare yourself accordingly.
You will sigh with delight every time you run across a copy of any one of Douglas Adams’ books.
You will sigh with respect every time you run across a copy of any one of Anne Tyler’s books
Oh, screw it, you will sigh any time you run across a book by any of your favorite authors, of which there are many, studying the cover and studying the author photo and flipping the pages with awe. So much of your life has been shaped by those pages you flip.
But you will not become the writer you dream of being. You will become the writer you were meant to be, a big difference, and this will involve a lot of falling backwards and sideways until the pinball finally makes it past the flippers and you land in the right hole.
Never stop reading books.
Never stop writing words.
Previously published in “Bonnywood Manor”. Slight changes made for this post. Now, anybody care to join me in a show-tune sing-along around the campfire? Because life is too short not to do such a thing when you have the chance. I even brought snacks for the intermission. And vodka…
Categories: My Life