At McDonald’s yesterday there was this guy with his 3 sons. He didn’t look like anyone I knew at first besides a father. A second look told me that I might have known this guy from high school. It looked like him but I was a little surprised at how old he looked. Maybe it’s not fair to say that because I’m comparing him to myself who still gets ID’d for buying lottery tickets. Not everyone can be as beautiful as Mr. Johnson.
We crossed paths at one point and both looked at each other. It was definitely him. I believe he recognized me as well. In high school we never really spoke. I was part of the “cool” crowd and he wasn’t. You know how in those TV shows the cool guys in high school become losers and the losers in high school become winners? That may have just played out. There’s the long game in life and if you stop playing it too soon you begin the path of misery.
The internet tells me he has a career in the engineering industry. These days if you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn people assume there’s a fair to high chance you’re a loser. I haven’t spoke to anyone about or heard of this theory but I’m theorizing that I’m correct because that’s what I would think. The other theory for not being on LinkedIn is you’re just way better than most people and don’t need to advertise yourself.
No one thinks having 3 sons means you failed but I bet he’s feeling like a loser right now. No one cares too much which gender their first child is but they care more about the second child because if they don’t get one of each then they’re sweating bullets for what the third one will be. Who the heck wants 3 boys? That’s like having 3 spoons when you want 2 spoons and a fork. That third spoon is going to get neglected — an oversupply. Talk about rolling the dice. Now you have to raise that third child and pretend you care about him just as much as the other two. Every time he stinks up the bathroom it was a stink that you didn’t need to smell. When you look at him you secretly imagine him in a pink Hello Kitty dress. The mind can go into some dark places.
Maybe we’re both losers because we’re both at McDonald’s. He spent more money than I did. I didn’t have fries or a soda with my burger. I had coupons and he might not have. I own McDonald’s stock which I’m up on. Maybe I won.
The following question & answer is from Quora. One day I entertained myself reading all of the answers from this old guy. This one I liked and decided to print out and tape to my wall.
What is something you wish you had known sooner?
Marlon Brandy, studied at University of California, Santa Barbara
Answered Nov 13, 2018
I’m 77. I created four successful businesses, married two beautiful women (one at a time) have two great sons, and retired at 49. My life has been full. And it really doesn’t matter – none of it. I wish I’d known that in the beginning – that it all wouldn’t matter. I beat myself up most of my life trying to accomplish success and I could have had a much easier time of it. I was chasing someone else’s dream, not mine. No 14 hour days, six days out of the week. No heart attacks. No ulcers. No enemies. I could have learned the piano, painted, sculpted, read more books, learned to dance the salsa, had more dogs. At the end of life, and mine is just around the corner, the important stuff is the stuff I didn’t have time for. I can’t speak for all wealthy people, but the ones I know are pretty damn empty. We come into the world naked and we leave pretty much the same way – and there are no “Mulligans”. If you don’t get it right the first time, too bad for you. I’m too old to climb the mountains I always wanted to climb, too old to buy a dog, too old to learn to surf, too old to learn the piano. All the good stuff is behind me. Don’t get stuck in a life that isn’t yours.
With all the self-reflection I’ve done and conclusions I’ve arrived at with my life and life in general, I was lost on how to advise the 2 unambitious young men working at the games & collectibles store. One guy has decided he’s too young to bother trying to figure his future out. “I’m 25, what am I supposed to know?” he says. He’s not being irrational but his attitude isn’t encouraging. He tells me he’s an art student whose main interest is painting but he also tells me he doesn’t do much painting. Over the last 2 years I’ve periodically told these guys to just quit since they’re always complaining how much they dislike their job. If you don’t have the guts to quit your minimum wage job that you dislike then your tolerance for risk is much too low for this life. I’ve gone as far as threatening to email their head office to inform them that they sexually harassed me using a vinyl action figure.
The other guy attends college when he can afford it. He takes General Studies courses which is basically what one would enrol themselves in to defer feeling like a loser. It’s expensive and requires a lot of time and effort to not appear to be a complete loser. He tells me he’s poor. I tell him it’s okay to be poor when you’re 25 because all of your friends are poor. That was my subtle way of telling him that it won’t feel okay to be poor in the future.
The biggest deception in life is that people have very little idea how they’re going to feel in the future. People believe they’re going to feel similar to how they do in the present. Guys like them tell themselves that they’re going to figure it out but it’s really just a hope. In a country such as Canada you have all the opportunity in the world to do anything including nothing. From my experience most people who defer making a decision never figure it out. The decision is just made for them at some point.
Perhaps there’s too many options but none of them seem to check all the boxes especially the enjoyment box. There’s good paying jobs out there but to many they involve too much discomfort so instead they pick something easier and unrewarding hoping something that checks the enjoyment box along with the high income box as well as the no risk box will come along one day. I know all about that. That seems to be the core philosophy for many but it’s not a realistic one for most people.
There’s probably no guidance I could give them that would shift their attitudes. At their age I blocked out everything I didn’t want to believe. And maybe I’m in no position to offer advice to them. Maybe they’re doing just fine. With their current trajectory though and in today’s environment I don’t believe the odds are in their favour. I read somewhere, instead of giving advice it’s better to tell your story and have people take what they want from it.
What I believe now to be healthy core philosophies sounded shallow and disheartening in the past. In such a safe civilization it’s easy to dream up hippie-like philosophies to avoid the uncomfortable realities. Life hasn’t changed much in the last 100,000 years — it’s a competition, the winner is often the one who gets their first, isolation and inadequacy is a horrible feeling, lacking resources is a precarious position to be in. A good life is a relative measure so be better than most people.
In the last quarter of the year I decided to push for some changes. My belief is that progress is the only way to “happiness.” On the internet some woman was talking about how she spent 8 hours a day at the gym. I thought about how I could do that if I really wanted to. Apparently Bill Gates reads for 5 hours a day. I thought about how I could do that. I’m not quite there yet but I have been making progress.
Jordan Peterson said I’m too big of a loser to accomplish such goals right away so I should work slowly towards them. I took his advice on reading 20 minutes a day. It was too difficult at first so I tweaked it to 2 pages a day. I figured if I can’t read 2 pages a day then I’m a real loser. I then bought a Kindle and developed a program of reading 5% of a book a day. That’s a book in 20 days assuming I read every day which I don’t but when I do I am able to do the 5%. My favourite feature of the Kindle is that it allows me to highlight passages and save them. A good quote I came across on Twitter was, “read what you love until you love to read.”
On the elliptical machine I’ve been doing 30 minute sessions and adding a minute every week. I’m up to 35 minutes now. The book that I read by David Goggins has been giving me an extra push. He’s a former Navy Seal and when I think about slacking off, his voice pops in my head, “don’t quit you fucking pussy!” I then tell myself that a Navy Seal wouldn’t wuss out so I can’t either because I’m a Navy Seal. I’m not a Navy Seal though and I don’t have an IQ of 160 like Bill Gates. It’s okay, I only need to mimic a fraction of their daily routine to be better than average. Or maybe it’s not okay because the goal should not be to be better than average but to annihilate the average. Crush them. Make them cry. Earn the right to call then pussies! I bought a copy of the book for a friend because he also has loser tendencies. His are worse than mine. That’s my little jab at him. His loser tendencies are actually much worse than mine.
The routine is to go to the gym, read, practice piano and then all those other things like washing my underwear so that my life doesn’t deteriorate. The more knowledgeable and wiser I become from reading and thinking the easier it will be to further isolate myself from society.