Friday, June 12, 2020

Insight: Handy advice for my younger self

I must admit I’m probably the last person you’d want to take advice from. Been wrong so many times about so many things that it tends to make me forego wading in with an opinion even if I only have the slightest hint of self-doubt about the topic of discussion.

Then again, at my age the person I’m probably most qualified to offer advice to is my younger self, having lived through and survived some questionable decisions I’ve made in my lifetime.

So here I’ve compiled a list of advice I’d give to my younger self and in no particular chronological order…

** It’s probably not wise to tack Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris baseball cards to the spokes of my bike just because I disliked the New York Yankees. In excellent condition, those 1965 Mantle and Maris cards could be worth more than $500 each in 2020.

** Refusing to watch James Bond films growing up and for much of my adult life simply because I didn’t like the thought of spying or spies is not a great idea. Turns out “Skyfall” with Daniel Craig as Agent 007 is one of my top-3 all-time favorite movies ever and led me to go back to watch as many James Bond films as I could find.

** Commit to spending more time with Mom and Dad. As a kid, the last thing I wanted to do was to hang out with my parents. My mother would insist that I sit down and watch the “Lawrence Welk” television show with her on Saturday nights and I hated every minute sitting through that horrible experience each week. My father was an awful cook and frequently embarrassed the family by putting ketchup on everything from steak to oatmeal to chicken noodle soup. But what I wouldn’t give today to go back and sit on the sofa with my mom and pretend to like the Lennon Sisters or cut into a thoroughly burned broiled sirloin steak prepared by my dad.

** Appreciate more the natural beauty of where you live. Many Americans, and I’m in this group, have never just stopped for a moment to admire the scenic charm of their surroundings. Get out and explore why Maine is nicknamed “Vacationland” by so many instead of trudging through the day to day routine of work and never taking in the splendor of such a gorgeous locale to reside in. Same can be said for previous stops I’ve made along the way in New Hampshire, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Germany and New York state.

** Save your money and avoid costly fashion trends and fads. Orange and black plaid flared bell bottoms, red platform shoes, a bright yellow leisure suit, a pink Miami Vice sport coat, green satin MC Hammer parachute pants and any shirt made of rayon will be the subject of family jokes and humor and many laughs down the road when looking through old photographs and albums.

** Tell my friends more often how much they mean to me. Joe Pagan started out as a copy editor that I would call at the newspaper after games ended in the late 1990s to dictate stories about prep football, prep basketball and prep soccer. His willingness to laugh at my jokes and offer candid opinions about how to improve my writing made us close friends. Through the years as I advanced in my career to eventually lead a newspaper as a managing editor, Joe was a valuable source I could turn to for rational advice and someone who was always in my corner and championed my career in newspaper management. Sadly, Joe suddenly passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2017.  I never told him that my career would never have taken off like it did without his encouragement and support and for that, I’ll certainly have to live with my regret.

** Realize some battles aren’t worth fighting. As I’ve gotten older, certain issues do not seem as important as they once were. The art of compromise doesn’t come easy to me, but it’s much easier now to avoid arguments over sports, what’s being served for dinner or the color of a new sheet set than in years past. Was it worth losing my cool because there were not two available seats together and nobody would move over one space to let my wife and I sit together when we went to see the film “Nighthawks” with Sylvester Stallone at the theater in 1981? In retrospect, no, it would have been courteous for someone to do that for us, but about 30 minutes into the showing, the movie was so bad that a man in our row got up and walked out, creating an empty seat so I could then move and sit next to my wife.

We all wish that we could wave a magic wand and go back in time to avoid making silly decisions or to visit with departed friends and family. If I had known then what I know now, life would have been easier. But isn’t the point of our existence to grow and learn over our lifetime? <

Ed Pierce

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