37 Things I Know At 37

* Putting a suggestive image on anything will make more people look at it.

* It’s not enough to admire art from afar. You should create it, and try to live inside of it. Imagination is everything.

* I’m well past the age where I have to stop and think about it when people ask me how old I am. I expect this to continue until I hit that nice round 40 in, uh…3 years.

* My life has changed more dramatically in the last year than through any point in my life previously. The first inconstant variable was breaking my vow to never get a smartphone. In short order, I took a job that required me to be awake before noon, got into a committed relationship, started a mainly vegetarian diet (but this is kind of an alley oop, as it’s a result of my partner’s lifestyle, and I’m with her most of the time- to quote Jules “My girlfriend is a vegetarian, which pretty much makes me one, too.”), made friends with a cat, started wearing shorts in public, spent a lot of time at a public pool, I hold two jobs in a six day work week… It was one “never say never again” after another, and the last decision I recall actually making with any sort of “what am I about to do, here?” trepidation was that phone. Everything fell into place after that.

* One of the best compliments I’ve ever received: “You turn negatives into positives… No, you don’t tend to do that, you always do that. That’s what you do.”

* Another: “I can never tell if you’re kidding or not.”

* I’m almost pathologically polite. One of the things I always like to do is introduce friends and acquaintances to each other if they’re occupying the same space and have not met. I think we lost a lot as a culture when this stopped being a standard feature of human interaction, which I presume happened sometime well before my birth.

* I despise double standards. If something is culturally accepted as OK, but if you flipped it around and wouldn’t be OK, I tend to figure that it’s not OK.

* I think the only thing we can safely think about all people is that they just want to be thought of as individuals. I don’t care to be considered a white, straight, red haired, late thirties-aged American male with bipolar disorder. None of those labels define me in the least. I don’t think I’m a typical anything, and I don’t think anyone is.

* That said, it is really spooky to me how well astrological signs tend to line up with personalities. I don’t think anyone can divine anyone else’s future, but I can tell you that I most certainly am a Scorpio. It’s weird, and I just try to not think about it too much.

* Belief is not a choice. You do or you do not.

* No matter what they tell you or what they tell themselves, people do what they want to do and they don’t do what they don’t want to do. That gym membership I never use, that book you keep meaning to read, that person that keeps saying they’ll call but they don’t, it’s because there’s no actual desire. Make peace with that, you will be happier.

* The key to life is balance.

* Your parents name you, but they have no idea who you will be. Your friends nickname you because they know exactly who you are.

* If you don’t feel like drinking for whatever reason but still want to be around people who do, be prepared for some sideways glances. The only way I’ve found to get around heavy conversations when you just want to hang out is to say “I’ve had enough” when offered. That could either mean in your lifetime or today, but it sounds hardcore enough that followup questions are unlikely.

* There’s what I think, there’s what you think, and there’s the truth.

* I don’t like the act of writing. I do like having already written.

* Those last six quotes, despite some spin that I applied, weren’t mine originally. The guy who said the last one once told me “It’s OK to use other people’s lines, just give the person you heard say it credit the first three times. You say ‘My friend Ned always says…’ a few times, and after that, don’t worry about it.” So I don’t. Thanks, Ned!

* In the court of public opinion, a person who generally does good things can do a single bad thing and become a pariah, and a person who generally does bad things can do one good thing and become a saint.

* As I’ve gotten older, personal relationships have become much more valuable and I’m more inclined to work at maintaining them. As a younger person, I was much more likely to write people off who displeased me. That’s no way to be, and it cost me a lot.

* I try to forgive people for doing the wrong things, because I have a hard time forgiving myself, and it seems like the only way to eventually be less hard on myself and let shit go is to grant everyone the same amnesty. Within reason, of course.

* Just being sorry counts for a lot. To me, an apology means that you’re stating that if you had something to do over again, you would do it differently. I’m not a fan of “I’m sorry, but…” or saying you’re sorry for something you keep on doing. “I’m sorry” is powerful and it can be sacred. It should be held in the same high esteem as “I love you.”

* Never hesitate to say “I love you” if you do.

* But don’t say it if you don’t.

* The stuff you own can end up owning you, and the less you have, the less can be taken away. There’s a certain power in that.

* Music is like food, and you wouldn’t just eat egg salad sandwiches for the rest of your life.

* A sure sign of untreated mental illness is wearing clothes entirely inappropriate to the weather.

* Karma may or may not be real as a cosmic concept, but consequence is no coincidence.

* Being friends with people you really admire is a rich and rewarding experience. You’re continually cognoscente that they loom larger in your life than you do in theirs, but they provide the strongest advice…if only because you’ll actually listen to them.

* When someone is silent or says little, or even if they just say things that aren’t expected of them, others will tend to project their own subconscious will, or desires, or insecurities upon them. It’s a funny trait of human nature.

* Sleeping and eating are two of the best things in life.

* I used to like to say “Ambition is poisonous.” I don’t think that anymore. Now I just think blaming the loss of your moral compass for any reason besides personal accountability is bunk.

* It’s actually better to fade away than to burn out. Whoever said the opposite can only measure their self worth in the eyes of other people.

* Self-awareness is immensely important.

* As my life progresses, I find that I value kindness and integrity as personality traits above all others. That may seem corny, but it’s absolutely true.

* I’m not afraid if the things I’m earnest about make me come off as square. I’ve spent enough time with irony and cynicism and trying to seem cool.

* Cool is about being relaxed, and I’ve never been more.