“A famous artist is approached by a student. “You don’t remember me,” the student says correctly, “but years ago you said something that changed my life. You said, ‘Photography is death.’ After that,” says the student, “I threw out my camera. I began again. I want to thank you for changing my life.”
“Leave me alone,” says the artist. “Photography is life.”
― Amy Hempel, The Collected Stories
I remember the 16 year old me imagining the 30 year old me as if it would be a whole different person; someone else with the ability to solve any problem; a tall figure running around town all day solving important problems in a nice suit and still getting home on time to cook a 5 course dinner.
But the truth is you never become someone else. All those years pass by and you end up a bigger person, never a different one.
There is no magic that transforms you.
One day you are answering non-sense questions about trains, ethics, apples, and the meaning of life on your 7th grade test and years later find yourself answering the same on a job interview.
So, you see, i’m not qualified to give life advice to anyone, really. In fact if i ever give you one you should probably do the opposite, but that said, i did manage to pick up some things along the way. And for what it’s worth here they are:
I’ve learned that if people don’t care about you at the beginning, they won’t later. No matter what you do, no matter you send them cheesy, embarrassing videos about how you would love them even if they had no hair or no teeth (really..), no matter you cross continents.
I’ve learned that is impossible to escape a mistake you need to make. It will keep punching you in the face until you take it and learn from it.
I’ve learned that sometimes you need to fall in the mud, and stay in the mud, and live in the mud. Until your clothes get ruined and your hair gets so soaked you forget what color it used to be. Until you know that puddle well enough to never fall in there again.
I’ve learned that hate exists, and also that is useless. That is a grenade that will destroy you too if you let it go off.
I’ve learned that some of the most painful life lessons will come to you in the form of people. And that no matter how big or important the things lived were, once over, you need to let go.
I’ve learned that when one door closes another one opens, sometimes an old one you were too young to open 5 years ago.
I’ve learned that i’m not going to be the philathropist i believed i’d became when i was a 7 year old, and that’s ok. I’m not going to discover a miracle cure or save any endangered species. Being good, for most of us, ends up being about simple things as saying please and thank you to the people around you, and giving a hand to your annoying cousin even when your schedule is full.
I’ve learned to be rough with my friends. To be honest even if it makes them upset, to yell if they don’t want to listen. And also to walk away and let them be when i have to, because sometimes the only way to teach someone something is to let them live it.
I’ve learned that age is just a number, but experiences are not. Some people will get to your life at the wrong time, and they will need to go away and love a lot of other things and places before they reach you. Sometimes it will be you who’s not there yet. Sometimes the difference will be so big that the two of you will never meet at the same place.
I’ve learned to keep my eyes open when i’m scared. The monsters in horror movies look fake once you stare at them too long; the monsters in real life do too.
I’ve learned that no matter how far away you go, or how many new people you meet, you’ll always keep coming back to your childhood friends. You’ll end up forgiving anything those bastards do. You can’t escape them, they are part of you.
I’ve learned to give people time instead of gifts. And to appreciate the people who give me theirs. Unforgettable moments are too undervalued and they are the only thing that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
I’ve learned that i was born lucky and that i need to stop complaining so much.
I’ve learned to listen to my body, to love it,to take care of it, to push it to the limit, to use it. It’s not an ornament, it’s the only instrument we get to experience the world. If you’re not nice to him, he won’t be nice to you. If you don’t take care of him he will start giving you hangovers that last 3 days.
I’ve learned that people you trust will betray you and some strangers will surprise you and even change your life.
I’ve learned that you should always keep at least one person in your close circle that’d slap you when you’re being too dramatic.
I’ve learned that what you’re going to wear and how happy you’ll be that day, are the same thing: Choices that only you can control.
I’ve learned that people will lie to you, hurt you, betray you. And you have to try not to take it too personal, they are not against you, they are just looking out for themselves.So be careful who you trust, not everyone wants to help you. Trust your own instincts instead of someone elses, let it be your success or your mistake, not theirs.
And most of all i’ve learned that life is too unpredictable to keep an agenda and too short to mourn too long for plans that didn’t work out.
There are no formulas, no right way of mixing ingredients, no rules to follow. The only thing you can really do is wake up every day and keep moving; even when you see no roads, even when you feel like you have no chances, even when everything’s dark. Because waking up alive IS your chance. And we already learned to make fire about a million years ago, so you see, we have no excuses, no matter how dark everything gets the power to make your own torch and light your way lives in you.
(If you do make that torch you can also use it to keep away your enemies by wagging it on their faces and screaming)
And that’s it.
That’s all i know.