When I was 17, I was cocky.  In retrospect, more cocky than I had a right to be. To be honest, I was only reasonably sporty, adequately – but not overly – academic, and I don’t remember being openly mocked by the ladies (after all, I did slow dance the entire way through Stairway to Heaven with a brave attempt at stealing second ). I was Lead Jester in My Own Little World.  I thought I knew it all.  Looking back, how wrong was I?  As I matured, there were many painful experiences that taught me all I know today, which in the Grand Scheme of Things, is sweet f*ck-all.  At the risk of being guilty of using an old cliché, I wish I could go back and relive my youth with what I know now.  I know – impossible.  Second best, I would write a letter to myself (reminding myself that e-mail and IMs did not exist in 1981) and offer a few nuggets of hard-won wisdom. What exactly would they be? Read on my fellow dreamer…

Enjoy your hair.  Now unless you are Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, your hair will inevitably disappear.  It will not quite leave you – sadly, it will only migrate.  As if the conditions are too hard on your head, your hair will climb down the mountain to the lower southern slopes and

The Noize, noize, noize…..

outcroppings.  I would tell Young Me to relish his orderly eyebrows, hairless ears and attractive back.  And, to enjoy his trimmer-free years…eventually his partner will tell him to  put things up his nose as a matter of personal grooming.

French fries are not a vegetable.  This one hurts. At 17 you can eat what you want – full fat, deep-fried, batter-dipped and powder-sugared.  But I would warn Young Simple Fellow about exponential growth…that 1 kg becomes 2, then quickly 4 – and soon, to unimaginable horror, the scale will read a staggering 16 kgs over prime fighting weight. Next come the questions, “what is this jiggling motion in  my pectoral area, and why can’t I see my Mini-Me anymore?”  Nip it in the bud 17 year-old Me, cut any chance of the “moobs” and “gock” – use the gym regularly and lay off the Bubba’s Poutine, and (gulp) the pints.  (Key words, “lay-off” not “eliminate”…)

Everyone is insecure.  We all have self-doubt. Some of us just ignore it better; just, ask the guy wearing the gangsta-pants. Get over it.

Smoking is not cool. Took me many years and a few tries to learn this one; surprising for something so simple really. I would tell Me to just go take a peek at the smoking area at the nearest hospital.  The post-surgical junkie smoking outside, with an IV drip stand and open-backed gown, says it all.

Your parents do know Shit. Again, it took me a while to figure this one out – the Folks actually had a couple of good bits of advice.  The old chestnut is, “When I was 16, my parents knew nothing; when I was 23, I was surprised how much my parents had learned in 7 years.”  Pretty ageless, as your parents will tell you.  I would encourage Young Me to look at the Folks as a source of information instead of a source of irritation.   And while he’s at it, I’d ask him to be nice to old people, even if they smell like soup.

Challenge yourself regularly.   I’d tell Young Me that he will be surprised at just how resilient he is.  And that there is fun to be had doing things that he has never tried before.  To Take advantage of his invincibility, because when he gets older, the fear can set in. Just don’t write checks that your body can’t cash. Save that for when you are on the rugby pitch in your mid 40s…

Read something about lots instead of a lot about something.  There is so much to know about so many topics. True, it may be lucrative, or eventually help humanity, to know a lot about one thing. Ask Bill Gates. But just think back to your last conversations with an “expert”.  Bet it was numbing and boring, and that all you heard was “blah blah blah” as you searched for an escape route.  Being well read helps you become well spoken.  I would tell Him to learn how to small talk.  – it makes people comfortable and comfortable people are much more fun than uncomfortable people.

Nothing comes easy.  I’d tell Young Me that nothing comes easy – and anything worth having is worth working for.  Practice, effort and patience and the occasional sacrifice are the keys to achieving your goals. Trust me, nobody wins the lottery on their first go.

Everyone teaches you something.  By observing those around you, you will see that everyone is a role model; the key is to identify the positive ones from the negative ones. Sadly it is not as simple as the difference between Batman and Catwoman (sorry, more than a few teenage moments thinking about that one….)

Be a good listener.  Listening is a skill.  Steven Covey wrote, “Strive to understand before being understood.” Lots of people sound like idiots because they did not exercise the sound equivalent of “Reading the F*cking Question”.  On that note…

Forget the porn, this is what you’ll Google when you’re 40+…

Listen to your doctor.  When the doc says you should skip the last few games of the season, or you’ll develop arthritis in your 40s, do not say, “Tape it up doc, that is f*cking decades away.”  When you’re 45+, it hurts – a lot. Unless you’re playing for the Stanley Cup, let the dream go…and do all the physio.

Who cares what others think – do what you think is right. Young Me, this is a tough one – may be the toughest – but if mastered it can set you up for life. Doing the right thing is hard.  It means standing up to bullies and supporting the bullied; it means making informed choices when it comes to drink and drugs and sex.   While Charlton Heston carried down the so-called Absolutes Wrongs, I have found other than the acts that land you in jail, the morally right and wrongs can get woolly.  Often there is no identifiable right and wrong – only what is right or wrong for you.  If confused, refer back to the “talking to the Folks” thing – they have had more time to develop their moral compasses. Failing that, just ask yourself what Wally Beaver would do…

That’s a big list  – most likely fruitless at that. 17 year-old Me wouldn’t listen to middle-aged Me anyway.  But to end the advice, I would offer just one more nugget…

Jaegermeister does not taste any better on its return journey.

Seemed like a good idea at the time….

I am sure that there are many more out there that will come to me during one of my many afternoon naps. I will keep them to myself and save you the boredom.  But, if you have any you want to share, I would love to hear them…probably more than  17 year-old Me would! Later…

ASF

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