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Don't Be Silly...

Early on in life, a time before cell phones, when older people felt comfortable offering up their wisdom, I would always pay attention to what they were saying. They would spout out all their regrets as a warning to 10-year-old me, and I didn’t see it as a putdown—I thought they were preparing me for what was to come. Important things like; they wish they hadn’t worked so hard, they wish they would have stayed in school, they wish they would have traveled, they wish they would have pursued their passions, they wish they would have spent more time with their family…somehow much of this sunk into my head, long hair and all.

An elderly man in a wheelchair grins joyously with hands in the air as a young man  pushes him popping a wheely and they both laugh
Maybe there is time to be silly?

In my twenties, I was very close to my Grandfather. I would visit him at his junk shop on Cherokee street in St. Louis and listen for hours as he told his life stories. He had the most incredible sense of humor and never took himself too seriously.

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Everyone who came into his shop called him Bob. The entire Cherokee Street retail community knew him as Bob. When I asked him why they all called him Bob, without hesitation, he said –when I moved in, the sign on the front was “Bob’s” and then he giggled and giggled. After years of thinking about it, I am convinced that was his secret to happiness. My dear Grandfather had nothing to prove, no puffed-up pride, and no one to impress. He didn’t care what people called him. Ed/Luke/Bob…was right where he wanted to be, having a great time, doing what he wanted to do. A retired UE Lineman buying and selling antiques and junk—hands down, the most intelligent person I have ever met. BTW: His real name was Ed, but his friends called him Luke.

A large brick building on a street corner in St. Louis with a big sign saying "Bob's Antiques & Junk"

When I visited him just before his death, he joked his doctor really messed up thinking the pain in his knee was arthritis. Then with a simple giggle, he gave me his last words of wisdom. He said most people don’t realize the freedom that good health brings—that one has always stuck with me and has pulled me from sadness on many occasions.

That's me—Supreme Leader of 573 Magazine.

Here are a few other things I learned from Ed/Luke/Bob/Grandpa:

It's not work if you are doing what you love.

Ideally, turn your interest into your work or your job into something you love. Work is the one thing I can guarantee that will make anyone happy. Way better than cussing at the TV.

Don’t miss your children’s youth.

Your presence is the best present. Your kids grow up fast. Don’t miss their childhood—stuff is not worth missing a single smile. And never let your kids or grandkids have a birthday without a card.

photo album with pictures of kids and grandparents

Express your feelings without regret.

Be authentic and genuine to yourself. Pretending you don’t feel what you feel is like telling yourself that who you are isn’t OK. Never let anyone you love propel a lie.

Treadmills are only good for exercise.

Get a bigger house, get a better car, get that new phone, get a giant tv, get that new position…and then what? If you make comfort your only goal, you will find yourself on a sunken sofa with few options.

photo album with a picture of a pretty girl playing acoustic guitar in the fall leaves

Embrace Change.

Everything changes. You can’t change that fact of life; change is the only thing you can rely on. Count on it and embrace it.

hands sorting through pictures of a baby with her mother

Laugh and have silliness in your life.

The fact is, both bad and good things will happen to you every single day—you can’t control that. Laugh it all off. Giggle in front of others.

So, Get Out There. I command you! Go for that hike, join that club, take that class, hit that civic center… turn the tv and cell phone off. Do something. Do anything. Get up and leave your comfort zone as much as you can. Leave that sunken sofa, and you will learn, see, or feel something new every time. And as a bonus, you won’t need to replace your sofa—big savings there.

t. smugala

Supreme Leader - 573 Magazine

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