Sun, 31 May 2009

I'm Not In the 7%

I was recently forwarded a email which started like so:
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more...

In preparing this blog post, it turns out that, unless she was caught in some "miraculous" time warp, she turned 50 in 2006, so being 90 only 3 years later is an impressive feat.

It turns out this 53 year old actually has her own site, (I'd link to it but it's down), and I found a reference to the actual post in Google's cached copy.

Now, I generally don't forward emails. Not because I'm a curmudgeon, but I figure that posting stuff on my blog is a far better use of "broadcast" communication to my friends. Emails are generally point-to-point for me (mailing lists excepted, but which are generally about a specific topic so forwading to them is not an option either).

You might say I generally follow the following flowchart: Should You Forward That Email?.

But I digress. The purpose of this blog post is to offer my revisions to Regina's posts, which are just as smarmy or relevant (whichever you subscribe to) whether she's 5, 45, or 90...

"1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good."

Life tends to be fair to you in the degree you're fair to life. Are your expectations realistic? Have you invested in yourself and your circumstances to give yourself a fair chance at success?

"2. When in doubt, just take the next small step."

Never underestimate the power of your intelligence and the ability to make something better out of your circumstances. In some cases, taking a small next step might take you over a precipice that is impossible to climb back up. So don't step over a cliff.

But if you're facing an uphill challenge that seems too steep to overcome, remember that those who have mastered Everest need oxygen masks and crampons, and those who have mastered space had suits and rockets. Properly prepared, you can overcome anything, so if you're in doubt about a step in the right direction, remember that luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

"8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it."

Plus, like Mickey Mouse, he doesn't really exist.

"17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful."

Everything you own requires some element of investment in time, storage, or maintenance. If you can't get use or joy out of something, it's holding you back.

"33. Believe in miracles."

But don't expect them to come true. See #1.

"34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do."

So does Mickey Mouse. See #8.

"36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young."

So long as you make something of it. Young Anne Frank lived a more inspired life than her elder, Adolf Hitler.

"38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved."

All that truly matters in the end is that, when faced with doing what is right and what is easy, that you picked doing what's right when it mattered. To say that you loved and therefore you did what matters ignores the reality of doing what is right by those you love.

"39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere."

Fresh air is a more likely outcome than a miracle. See #1. In other news, fresh air is way under-rated and miracles are way over-rated.

"40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back."

Mathematically, this makes no sense. On average (by definition) everyone's problems are equivalent. The distribution of problems, on the other hand, are typically disproportionately laid at the feet of the poor. So be thankful for what you've got, and minimize the extent that your life contributes to problems for others.

As Voltaire put it, "we must tend to our gardens"... that is, optimism is better met with pragmatism.

"42. The best is yet to come."

... so long as you continue to make opportunities for yourself, and avail yourself of them when they appear. Too many people peak too early and then check out of life, figuratively or literally.

"43. No mat ter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up."

... unless what you have is contagious. In which case, stay in bed, get lots of rest, and drink lots of fluid. See #40.

"44. Yield."

...unless the sign says "Stop". Otherwise, your insurance premiums might go up.

"45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Life is more like a bank account. Invest in it, and you'll see it grow. Neglect it and you'll find that when you need to make a withdrawal, there's nothing there to count on.

The email continues with a made up statistic (like her age of "90", which the original article doesn't contain), that "It's estimated that 93% of people who receive this email won't forward it." and to keep the subject line of "I'm in the 7%".

Allow me to retort with my own statistic. "It is estimated that 100% of statistics that start with the passive voice of It is estimated are completely made up, just like this one. Otherwise, real statistics require a source or an attribution, and a statistically relevant sample size to add veracity to their claims."


Name/Blog: Tim
Title: Love the flowchart!
Comment/Excerpt: I get lots of forwards and my first activity, for anything that is not just "Funny" is to check it with or similar, which usually results in me trying to decide whether I should tell whomever sent it to me that the thing is a hoax... I may end up sending a link to this chart instead. :)

Name/Blog: Tim
Title: Heh...
Comment/Excerpt: I didn't bother reading the original (seen too many like it) but I like some of your revisions. 43 and 44 made me laugh, and 17 makes me want to get back on cleaning my garage. :) Interestingly, the first reCAPTCHA word for posting this is "Adolf."

Khan Klatt

Khan Klatt's photo