Feb 15, 2023–After ranting about how no one listens to any advice that might actually change your life, I heard from readers giving their advice, anyway.
Most were silly, involving warnings about squatting on cactus, eating yellow snow, and changing your underwear.
So, ignoring my own advice, I decided to share some advice with you.
I went back to a book I assembled in 2012. It was based on the philosophy of Dick Culbertson, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who mentored me at the state and national levels of our Community Education program. A better word is that he annoyed me, constantly prodding me to action and interaction.
I chafed but grew wiser under Dick’s crusty tutelage. When he was well into his 80s, I asked him to write down 100 bits of wisdom to pass along to help the rest of us move forward through the world he was looking back on.
To my surprise and joy, he wrote them out in longhand on a yellow legal pad and sent them to me in batches over several weeks. Reading them 10 years later, a few stand out, as apt today as ever:
- Please don’t ask me why before you do it. By the time I explain it to you I could have done it myself.
- Appreciate your parents. If they knew what a self-centered, self-aggrandizing little bastard you would turn out to be they still would have had you.
- If you start it, finish it.
- Judging others is a dangerous game.
- A great companion is the finest thing in the world.
- Human pettiness isn’t worth recognizing. It rots in its own uselessness.
- Your actions speak so loud I can’t hear what you are saying.
- Wisdom was hard to come by: don’t sell it cheap.
- Freedom isn’t only the best thing, it’s the only thing.
- A straight line is not always the best way to get there.
- Wishing is great. Now make it happen.
- Where your attention is, is where you are.
- Just being together and doing nothing is the test of happiness.
- Learners are scarce. Just look around you.
- I respect you unless you prove otherwise.
- Genius is rare: cultivate it.
- Prosperity is not having to worry about money to make ends meet.
- Liberty is about freedom of movement.
- To hope is great, but it must be covered by action.
- Each day is opportunity. Use it.
- If you go up, stay there.
- Own a piece of land and your country is yours.
- Wish me not a long life, but a healthy one.
- Integrity isn’t acquired–it’s in you or not.
- Fool me once, and it’s over.
- An intellectual thief is the worst kind.
- The fastest thing in the world is time.
- One who follows intelligently may someday lead.
- I never say never because I might do it.
- Find your interest and find success.
- A swift kick must be placed right.
- The people you think you fool will make one of you.
- Giving without obligation is the only kind.
- If you think you are a leader, just turn around.
- Humor never harms.
- The brain has endless elasticity for creativity.
- If it’s right, you or no one else is hurt by it.
- Meanness means loneliness.
- Growing old gracefully means accepting reality.
- Treat yourself to some decent experience each day.
- What is shared is kept.
- We came here to learn; please keep us awake.
- We never run out of time; we just mismanage it.
- Stay around the brightest and most successful where possible.
- Habits are who you are.
- Wisdom is your profit from understanding experiences.
Sadly, Dick passed away before his list reached 100. In the book, I left those last seven pages blank, to let readers fill in their own best advice.
But none will top his final entry:
- Piss off all but six people; then make them your pallbearers.
Some advice is timeless.