Saturday, January 14, 2006

Message in a Bottle

Don’t smoke.

If I had to offer one piece of advice of any consequence or reliability to the young, it would be don’t smoke. Or smoke, but do it with the knowledge that chances are that you will be doing it for a long, long time to come. A cigarette is not an easy companion to get rid of, and many have kicked the bucket before kicking the habit. And yes, it is not about mental fiber.

Find new ways to feel good about yourself. Take up a hobby, join acting classes, read Dilbert. Do the daily Crossword- whatever. As you grow older you’ll realize that it is increasingly difficult to hit a high with the old tricks. Buy presents for yourself.

At work and life otherwise, remember that it is important to snatch small wins. Big deals will happen, but don’t ignore the small ones. At the end of the year you will realize that in summary, the small things that have made you happy, stack-up quite nicely.

It is perfectly ok if you don’t plan in advance. It is even ok not to know your next move most of the time. But try not to procrastinate. Of all the characteristics of the human race, procrastination is the most innocuous evil.

Dream. Dream of a house, a family, of owning all the music you could ever want. Dream of driving along the Old Silk Route. But do something about at least some of your dreams while you still can. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to have all these dreams, and rush through life, end up at 70, with all the time in the world and no wherewithal to do anything about it.

Do well at work, or do whatever you need to, to have the money. Money is important. It is the sixth sense without which the other five are incomplete. Without money no one is ever going to be around you for long enough. They might like you, even love, but at the end of the day, there has to be bread on the kitchen shelves and milk in the fridge.

Don't hesitate to change professions to make sure that you continue doing what you like. But never ever settle for a pay cut.

Dress well. It is especially important to dress well if you do not possess the looks. A good suit can open doors. A smart tie can get you a date.

Write. Even if no one is reading, write. Write your thoughts, your dreams. Write about the girl next door, the crack in your bedroom wall. Write whatever you feel like, but write. And after you’ve written, keep a copy. At leisure, read what you wrote six months back.

Find ways to be at peace with yourself, by yourself. It is the best thing you can gift yourself. Sooner or later, your friends will get married, have kids, and may be so will you. But unless you’re comfortable being with yourself, no one else is going to be happy being around you. Be your own inspiration.

Give marriage a chance, or at least long-term companionship. Like speech, commitment is a gift given only to human kind.

Respect age, respect experience. The most efficient model to success is to learn from others’ experiences. Be around people with experience. Keep good company.

Don’t resist change. Don’t resist temptation either. People bring experiences- don’t shy away from them. Don’t be afraid of making new friends, even if they’re not of your age. And yes, have a special place for friends from the opposite sex- they lend you a perspective that not any number of people of your own sex can ever substitute. Whatever you do, try and be nice to people.

Enjoy your vices for the occasions that caused you into them, and not for the vice itself. For instance, drinking with clients is business, drinking with friends is fun. Drinking alone is a disaster.

Procreate if you must, but do it before you’re 32. This will ensure that before you’re into your fifties, your kids will be out of their teens and are packed off to university. Remember, kids are a negative carry trade. Life is all downhill after you have one. If you don’t want them, always use protection. It has other benefits, but avoiding accidental conception is the most vital one. Be responsible in this respect.

Don’t be afraid of saying the three magic words. Most people like the sound of it. If it works, you’re in a for a cracker, if it doesn’t, its just some wasted breath. Relish and respect the precious few connections.

Hold on to people you love, but don’t be clingy. People like being loved, so do you. People hate being cornered in a relationship, and so do you. Learn to forgive in a relationship, but learn not to forget. When you’re 23 you think you’ll always meet people you’ll connect with. But when you’re 32, you’ll find it is not so.

While everything in this world happens for a reason, try not to find one every time. Realize that some reasons are best left to themselves: enjoy the moment. Live for it.

At the end of it all, don’t smoke.


I think I am going through a Mary Schmich phase. Wonder why- I can’t even pronounce her last name. So I decided to try out some of the things she suggests that every one should try doing. Consider this:

“Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.”


Ah yes, I smoke.


At 3:56 PM, Blogger Arvind Iyer said...

wow...lovely post...
I thought this deserves a dozen comments (yes, i am the category that measures the quality by the quantity too).
Since I shouldn't post more than one comment (another foible)...

Hope you quit smoking...

At 10:33 AM, Blogger shikha said...

This is indeed a great post T.O.

It sounds like advice from an guy whose been there and done dat!

and has the tinge of a sales profession:smart well..a smart suit can open doors for you.."


At 8:16 AM, Blogger Searcher said...

Beautiful. I think that's gonna be my next project - my own Guide to Graduates. It's gonna start with "Don't Look for Excuses." Doesn't have quite the same ring to it though... :o)


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