If you’re 30% through your life, you’re likely 90% through your best relationships. Some really great visuals in this one – how many books you might read, how many times you might go swimming – and then it comes to this:
I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood. Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the 10 days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.
Classic Hax. You have to be pretty open-minded and self-aware to be able to sympathize with those who appear to be (and may objectively be) more fortunate than you are.
Or she’s genuinely unhappy. It can, of course, happen amid gaudy equity, lovely kids, an attentive spouse, a flexible career, stable finances and ambitious travel; just because these have societal value doesn’t mean they’re valuable to her.
And just because the decisions were “very-thought-out” doesn’t mean they were the right ones for her. If a person’s baseline understanding of herself is a degree or two off, then her choices can lead her, over the years, hundreds of miles off-course.
Carolyn Hax: A friend with seemingly everything still has time for fine whine
Advice columns for men, however, seem not to have made the leap from proscriptive notions of rectitude to the smart-older-sister vibe of advice for women. In GQ and Esquire and even Maxim, which are full of Q&A-format advice for readers, situations are often posed in a joking tone and answered as if the writer were the dude from the Dos Equis commercials and the ultimate ethical standard is masculinity rather than humanity. “How to be a man” literature is the new conduct literature: it’s not that men haven’t cared about ideals of masculinity before now, but the idea verges on obsession these days, cf. everything from Shia LaBoeuf’s resignation note to the fact that someone greenlit How to Be a Gentleman. It’s a whole genre and evidently a popular one—but, while advice columns are the delicious and healthy snack of things to devour on the Internet, it matters for men and women alike that advice columns for men evolve, not by abandoning their gentlemanly tone but by choosing the right questions to answer.
That’s one reason why I read waaaaay more of Carolyn Hax than anything in men’s magazines.
The Cold Stoicism of Advice Columns for Men
There’s only one viable time management approach left (and even that’s only really an option for the better-off). Step one: identify what seem to be, right now, the most meaningful ways to spend your life. Step two: schedule time for those things. There is no step three.
This column will change your life: stop being busy
In light of all our focus on “progress,” it’s easy to forget that you can turn around from traveling in a wrong direction, and return to the place where things last felt right—whether that’s for something as trivial as what I’m trying to do with my goofy website, or as monumental as restructuring your identity, ambition, and emotional furnishings to match the last time you felt like yourself. You can go back. Sometimes that’s progress.
Frank Chimero – This One’s for Me
Alright, gotta get this out of my system. I took this photo a few weeks ago when I went back up to Dahlonega, the small town in north Georgia where I was born and spent the first half of my life. This is the first house we lived in. And, take my word for it, this is a flattering photo. The place has… seen better days. I keep pulling up this picture so I can hate-look at it. I hope that one day, if I ever buy a house, I will remember that it might have been where someone else grew up. My memories are still in pristine condition, so no harm there. And I have no idea of the circumstances of the people who live there now. But part of me is like… come on. Ah well. Gotta let it go.