A Toast to Star Wars Day

Five Lessons to Learn Before AARP finds you...

Light-bulb-in-darkness-725x544A friend recently got an offer in the mail to join AARP. She was not pleased. I've started going through my mail with a cautious eye. I don't feel AARP age or anything close to it, so I rather resent being told I am. At the same time, I find it funny. But it got me thinking about where I am in my life now. Have I learned anything in the past few years? Turns out, I've learned plenty...often kicking and screaming along the way. I thought I would share some of them:

1) Whoever thinks it's intelligent, noble, and absolutely necessary to plan career, family, and financials to the hilt for the sake of the future just hasn't run into the truck with their name on it yet. We plan, God laughs. Plan your day. Plan the next gathering with your good buddies. Go have that date night. And saving for retirement only makes sense. But everything else? The nose to the grinder, climb the corporate ladder at all costs business? Don't neglect what's right at the base of that ladder while you climb: family, good friends, the hobbies and talents that can make you happy today, your spiritual self, doing your part to make the world a better place. Yes, completely negligent behavior is just stupid--but so is the uber goody-two shoes act for the sake of a secure future. We get one life. Unless of course you believe in reincarnation. But it's not like you remember it, right?

2) You teach people how to treat you. For years, I thought I understood that statement--but not like I do now.  When dozens of people nag you to open your eyes because you're being taken advantage of, for God's sake, believe them!

3) You're never too old to learn something new. And ... enjoying learning something new can make you feel decades younger. 

4) We can find ourselves and others in the characters we read and/or write about. People were meant to connect on a variety of levels about an enormous number of things. It's part of being human. When we connect with a character, we should ask ourselves why. Does the character possess a trait we are missing? Does she say something we wish a friend would say? When we appreciate a character, we appreciate our desire to form connections with others--and that's a fantastic feeling. So when you wonder about your sanity because you've become obsessed with a fictional character, relax. It's all good.

5) Meet people where they are. That meme we keep seeing and sharing about how everyone is on their own tough journey, so be gentle? That's what it's all about. Sometimes this is so simple to do. It's about empathy. It's about being grateful for the good things in your life. Other times, meeting people where they are is akin to threading an elephant through a needle. Anger, fear, resentment can stand in our way. Most important? Meet yourself where you are. Baby steps.

What have you learned lately? Are you better for it?