21 Things I've Learned

My pals, today I turn 50. According to our Sages, this is the age at which one gives advice. 

Here are a few pebbles of wisdom I’ve picked up in my 50 trips around the sun:

1. Listen to your wife. (Gen 21:12). Very, very rarely, it may not be a good idea to do what your wife tells you (see Adam, Gen 3:17), but you should always listen closely.

2. Stretch before and after you work out. This was a great idea at 18, how much more so at 50!

3. Drive your kids to school. There’s always time to chat at that hour, and you can also teach them that “old music” includes both Frank Sinatra and AC/DC.

4. Read Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers). It includes some of the choicest pebbles in our 3,500-year-old wisdom tradition. Here’s a great edition: http://amzn.to/1R66LYG

5. Wear sunscreen. Kurt Vonnegut may not have said it, but we all know it’s crucial.

6. The soul exists. I saw my grandmother’s leave her body. See www.hevria.com/salvador/saw-grandmothers-soul-leave-body

7. Listen to your soul. You know your soul is talking when you feel a strong and seemingly random emotion. At that moment, your soul is way ahead of your brain, and sounding an alarm. Heed it.

8. Set a daily alarm (afternoon is good) to stop everything, take a deep breath, and thank God. Top items to be grateful for: life, love, and opportunity. Then ask for help to give your best. And pray for the well-being of your loved ones. Finish by saying thanks again. It takes 90 seconds. You’ve got 90 seconds.

9. Pursue a physical activity passionately. Strive to get better at it. The right activity is the one you do with full presence. If you’re thinking about other stuff while you’re doing it, keep looking.

10. Call your parents a lot. Even if they sound annoyed, they love it.

11. Make time for your friends. Water, feed, fertilize, and soothe those relationships.

12. Back up your data. Both on site and off site.

13. Read the Aubrey-Maturin novels. I’m not kidding - these are the best novels I’ve ever read. If you love adventure, humor, character, language, or history, don’t hesitate. You will thank me for this. Here’s the whole set in one edition:http://amzn.to/1Bl57AB

14. Learn a few good jokes. Everyone loves a good joke, but practice telling them lest you flub it, or launch the wrong story in mixed company.

15 Say a blessing over your food. Not only did God and your parents give you life, but they also enabled you to reach this day. And hundreds of people contributed to the meal on your plate, including farmers, drivers, merchants, inspectors, cooks...

16. Ditch the leather wallet. You can get one made of Tyvek, which is stronger and MUCH thinner. Seehttp://amzn.to/1ffwDWq

17. Acupuncture works, if you find the right doctor.

18. Vote. If you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain about politicians.

19. If you’ve taken a wrong turn, turn back right away. You won’t discover a new and awesome short cut by continuing down the wrong road.

20. Visit Israel. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice. You’ll feel the holiness of the place in your heart, and it will give you joy.

21. Keep your posts short. I'm working on this!

With thanks to Rav Mechie Blau for teaching me Talmud and reminding me that 50 is the age for giving counsel!

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