Now that I’m old

One of the posts that appeared on my Facebook page today had the intriguing title: “Bill Gates’ high school speech on The Eleven Rules of Life-Fiction! What the great man said was spot on and it got me thinking what I might say if given a similar opportunity. Looking back to when I was young, I recall my parents and other adults passing on to me what they considered to be helpful advice. At the time, my tendency was typical of youth, and that was to ignore what they said, but now looking back I recognize some of the stuff they said was helpful. Thinking about it, I might be better off now if I had heeded what was said, but also it is better late than never.

As I contemplate my own eleven rules, I do so not knowing quite how it will turn out but also I am all too aware there is a lot of stuff whirling around in my mind that I would like to pass onto the younger generation. Other than in the main endorsing what Mr. Gate’s said (my slight niggle is I am a being beholden to grace rather than lifting oneself up by the bootstrap man and what about mental ill health and what about the golden rule of doing unto others what you would want them to do to you …?) I would like to suggest my own set of rules. I recognize that my own beliefs have a bearing, e.g. the life of the here and now is NOT all there is and doing the right thing is important and it isn’t what we think is right but rather what God says is right. Even so, I would like to think many who don’t share those beliefs may still agree with many of the rules I am about to suggest. Other than providing the caveat these rules are off the top of my head and these could change, but without further ado …

RULE 1:

Life passes incredibly quickly and being young may seem like only yesterday. One of the things I failed to do enough of when young was to recognize that the old codgers I tended to looked down on were once vigorous young men and women with great energy and high hopes and without cares. Now I am rapidly approaching being an old codger myself, I am left wondering how the time has passed and whether I have made the most of the opportunities that I had. It follows then: make the most of every opportunity while you can.

RULE 2:

Regarding old codgers and anyone who is of a lower estate than oneself or are unable to give back to you (or so it seems) what you might and are able to give to them, think again! Life has taught me that there is a blessing to be gained from giving and the more we give the more we get back. Don’t think too highly of yourself and be humble. Even the world teaches “pride comes before a fall”.

RULE 3:

Try not to hold grudges. People will hurt you, sometimes big time, but don’t let hate take over. It will only eat you up and ultimately destroy you. By all means be wary (see Rule 4) but also forgive. Learning to forgive and moving on, both in the face of triumph and adversity, are some of the great secrets of a successful life.

RULE 4:

It may not seem that way but the world is composed of three types fools, villains and good guys, although the truth is we all are bits of each. Be skeptical, but not cynical, and above all be wise. Folk may help or hinder you, but it is up to you how you live your life.

RULE 5:

Aim to be the best you can in what you can and avail yourself of every chance to improve yourself and learn all you can (not just to pass exams). Aim to be the best at what you can do and invest what you gain as a result as this may be what enables you to live well when you are old and, moreover, it may help you to help others. Learn what it takes to “cast your bread upon the waters“.

RULE 6:

Things are not what they seem. Know that the more you know the more you find you don’t know. What you know about the world around you is a tiny part of the whole. Always remember there are always other pertinent perspectives and even those you disagree with may have something worthwhile to say and to offer.

RULE 7:

The most valuable assets of life are the not material ones, and the pleasures that give memories that abide are often the simple (and at the time) inconsequential ones. Make the most of these things and cherish them while you can because some may never return to you.

RULE 8:

The way to be fulfilled comes by heeding the teaching of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are those who mourn … Blessed are the meek … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness … Blessed are the merciful … Blessed are the pure in heart … Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness …

RULE 9:

Remember the serenity prayer and do what it says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

RULE 10:

You can’t take anything with you when all too soon you depart from this scene and become food for worms. It is better to give than to receive and best of all to leave a legacy for those who come after you.

RULE 11:

When considering the laws God gave to Moses and ought in part govern what we do, these can be summarized as two laws – love God and love your neighbor. If you do that you won’t go far wrong.

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