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Note to self: tackle life boldly, and buy a guitar

August 26, 2011|By Patrick Caneday

So I turned 44 last week. Not old. But certainly not young.

I’m tempted to ride my kids’ skateboard, confident I could still show them a thing or two. But I know if I do, I’ll be that guy on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” that I ridicule for not acting his age when he does a face plant on the sidewalk.

Interestingly, the internal voice that tells me which cabernet to order at wine bars, what to say to my wife to earn me a night’s accommodations on the couch and how best to traumatize my children, is the same voice I heard 25 years ago telling me that I looked really good in acid-washed jeans, a neon blue seersucker blazer and Panama hat.

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So, I have a few things I’d like to tell that young me gingerly embarking upon adulthood:

Buy a cheap used guitar. I know you can't play it. Just buy it and strum it once in a while when you’re watching TV alone in your studio apartment.

Don't be so sensitive. Stop worrying about what other people think, especially about you. Step out of your comfort zone weekly and be willing to make more mistakes. Don’t be afraid to be different; take the quizzical looks of others as a badge of honor.

Stop acting like you know everything. You know you don't, and you know it's a veil for your insecurities. Those insecurities don’t make you unique or special. They make you human. Everyone has them and demonstrates them in their own way. Even that guy who seems so confident and arrogant.

Remember this each time you feel insulted, slighted or demeaned by someone: they are struggling too. Or they're jackasses. Either way, don't let their actions dictate your emotions.

On that note, don’t be so aloof. You know it’s because you’re socially awkward, but others simply think you’re an arrogant jackass.

Be honest with yourself. Your own honesty is the only thing you can control. Approach the world with integrity and an honest self-image, and there isn’t a hurdle you won’t be able to overcome gracefully and responsibly.

When your parents talk to you about contributing to a safe, long-term investment plan, or profess the virtues of starting that life insurance policy while your blood pressure and policy premiums are low, listen to them. I hate hearing about financial responsibility for “the long haul” too. But it is a very long haul. And it goes by faster than you can imagine.

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