21. Life is short. Don’t hold grudges. (I know this. I’m just not good at doing it.)
22. Live below your means if you can. If you can’t do that, try very hard not to spend money you don’t have.
23. Everyone was someone’s child once.
24. From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'”
I have had the great advantage to be born into a family with two parents in a stable relationship (at least until I was a teen) with a stable income in a nice neighborhood in a town with good schools. Those same parents raised my siblings and I the best way they knew how. I never went hungry or without proper clothing. My family valued education and expected us to at least try to get a college education.
Also, I’m white, and whether or not you agree, I believe that fact means my reality is vastly different from someone who isn’t, even if all the other conditions are the same.
Admitting this doesn’t take away from my achievements. It doesn’t mean The Engineer and I didn’t work hard for what we have, nor does it negate the decisions we have made to keep us safely on the paths we have chosen.
It just means we were born with a few advantages not everyone has. In some cases, these advantages were provided by our parents. Other advantages were simply by luck — being born in a first world country, for example.
Fitgerald’s words ring true for me, and I think it’s important to remember them.
25. Even now, the US is a good place to live. But I do not believe we have any right to claim it’s the only good place to live.
26. Every family has problems. If yours hasn’t had any, you’re either a liar, or haven’t lived long enough.
27. Every country has problems. Some — climate change, COVID-19, income disparity, crime — are fairly universal.
28. I believe the earth will survive long after we have destroyed its capacity to support human life.
29. I also believe we need to do what we can to reverse, or at least stall, climate change and stop destroying our world. Obviously, I’m not claiming to be perfect in my own efforts, but I’m trying.
30. This one may seem like a radical notion, but I think the world was designed for men, mostly because most of our ways of doing things were designed by men, and therefore men are considered the default. But here’s a newsflash: Women aren’t men. We aren’t even smaller men. Our bodies are different so we react differently to drugs. Heart attack symptoms are different for women, and thus frequently go undiagnosed. We are 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident (statistic from Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez) because seatbelts are designed to fit men. (If you’d like to read a good summary of Criado-Perez’s book, go here.)
Don’t even get me started about bathrooms and “potty parity!”
Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about: I decided to look up bladders to see if there was a difference in size between women’s and men’s, and look what I found: A diagram entitled “Picture of the Bladder” on WebMD. Spoiler alert: It’s a man.
Our lives differ because women are usually the ones providing unpaid care work including child and elder care. (For many women, this fact and COVID-19 has stretched them to the breaking point.)
Safety is always more of a concern because rape of women is exponentially more common than of men. And if you’re someone who still believes a woman shouldn’t have been in a certain place or shouldn’t have worn that outfit, I’d suggest you look at this exhibition of what women were wearing when they were raped.
This is not whining. It’s merely asking to be included in decisions that affect our lives.
31. Having said that, I believe men can also be hamstrung by society’s traditional expectations.
32. Honey bees are fascinating.
33. If you look hard enough, you’ll find something interesting about almost everyone.
34. It’s good to sometimes shut up and listen — another fact I find hard to act upon.
35. The more things you can do yourself, the better off you are.
36. But sometimes it’s cheaper in time and money to pay someone to do a task.
37. Being educated and being smart are two different things. And both educated people and smart people can act stupid at times.
38. There’s no excuse for willful ignorance.
39. A birdfeeder is a relatively cheap way to add joy to your life.
40. Many times when the world seems overwhelming, it’s because you haven’t eaten.