“Why can’t I stay up late and watch Halloween?”
“Because I said so.”
How many of you grew up in households where your parent’s ace in the hole was “because I said so” or some variant? I imagine I can’t be the only one. If I had a dollar for every time I was told this, I probably wouldn’t have student loans.
Why couldn’t 8-year-old Madoff watch Halloween? I disregarded my parents and stayed up watching it on TNT or whatever channel had all the scary movies during October. I then spent the next few nights in a prone position with my pellet gun and grandfather’s war knife, waiting for Michael Myers to come get me and to this day, I’m still a huge baby about horror movies.
Thinking back, there are so many times that if I took the advice of someone I asked, I would have never been in many of the situations I’ve been in. It’s like The Butterfly Effect, only in real time. I remember being told by a buddy at work, “Don’t date the first girl you bang at college.” Guess what I did? After that, I remember everyone from my cousins to parents to friends saying, “Don’t live together.” You can bet your bottom dollar my dumb ass signed that lease. We broke up within two months of living together.
So why do we disregard the lessons and ideas of others? I know there have been many times people ask me for advice and do the exact opposite, and I’m sure I’m guilty of it. Everyone thinks they know what they are doing and that they are the star of their own show.
Billions of people have lived, died and documented their experiences so that hopefully, dipshit people later on down the line might learn from their mistakes. Some hairy caveman ancestors thousands of years ago figured out fire was hot. I bet they’re looking down from wherever we go after death, shaking their caveman head, wondering why we still burn ourselves. Ben Franklin (or Mama if you find him to be the Devil) laughed his ass off when I electrocuted myself installing a light bulb in the fridge last week. I stupidly neglected to find the threads for the lightbulb beforehand and got a few volts to the hand.
A dumb person never learns from their mistakes, a smart person learns from their mistakes, and a genius learns from the mistakes of others. The key difference in these three things is the ability to take these experiences and be shaped by them. Whether its Confucius telling you not to stick your dick in crazy or to not invade Russia during the winter, life is a continuous learning experience.
This article is not to demonize learning things on your own, actually quite the contrary. Sometimes, the most important thing in the world is to learn the hard way or as Oscar Wilde put it, “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.” If we lived only by what others say, what kind of experience is life? Really, the only thing we can do is to evaluate what you did wrong and how to do better while factoring in having another set of eyes isn’t always the worst idea. If this is the best of possible worlds, we have to cultivate our garden. .