Mar 182013
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Image by marc falardeau via Flickr


Let’s face it Coots, we’ve been sold a bill of goods. We grew up in what seemed to be a golden age. The sky’s the limit. Anything goes. You can have anything you want. You deserve it all. Nobody got snookered more than the women. Back in the 70’s feminists announced that women were the superior sex-capable of doing it all and without any help. Men were just chauvinist pigs, easily expendable. It was great news for men and for women. Suddenly the burden of supporting a household was lifted from men while at the same time women were freed from domestic slavery. Everybody wins – or at last that’s how it seemed at the time. We all bought the story because it excused weakness and self indulgence. Nobody ever expected to pay the price because post war babies were raised to believe that all we had to do was ask and it shall be given. And nobody was ever going to have to pay.

But we forgot biology. 

All this self indulgence failed to recognize the physical limitation of human existence- our bodies. Women postponed families past the prime reproductive years and then struggled with infertility and miscarriage while they fretted about how it would affect their careers. Men failed to step up and take charge, not willing to earn enough to support the family lifestyle or take a stand and cut back. Nobody understood what was wrong but it wasn’t how we expected life to be. And this is just what my wife and I experienced.

Life was controllable.  Not. 

There is a lesson here about understanding what is important and finding good models in your life. Listening to popular culture and the latest new idea is always a temptation but it is far more important to observe what works. Human beings have been around for thousands of years. The human body works as it was designed and cannot be messed with particularly the reproductive cycle. Radical changes in living that conflict with tradition and biology are risky strategies. Just because an idea is new and dressed up in modern clothes doesn’t mean that it is better. But it is much easier to believe in fantasies than reality.

 I know.

I messed up my life because I was naive and because I listened to the wrong voices. The real problem came from allowing myself to believe that short term thinking was enough to build a life on. Sooner or later even the stupidest and most naive individual begins to sense that it is all going terribly wrong and if he has any sense or responsibility, he changes. .

So what to do? 

So the point of this lesson is not that bad principles can take your life off course. Even the best of us goes off course from time to time. The point is what you can do about it and how to create value from those painful life lessons. Now that you know that you can’t have it all and that those short term goals left you far from where you would like to be in life, what can you do?

You choose.

You pick what is important and let that decision guide you. You can’t anymore manage to have everything at the end of your life than at the beginning. You should have learned along the way, what things are really important and which are trivial.

You can’t have it all and only a stupid old coot will be able to hold that belief after years or experience. So pick what’s important and go for it. Maybe you can still make up for being so dumb up until now.

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Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  3 Responses to “Coots Lesson 19- You can’t have it all!”

  1. Two things in your post combine to “light your ath” in a manner that works.

    First, “Listening to popular culture and the latest new idea is always a temptation but it is far more important to observe what works.” While my blustering, cocky, know-it-all self may say otherwise, occasionally claiming to know everything, I’m like the rest of us, not really smart enough to figger out how everything should be. Oh sure, I can figger out a lot of things, but not everything. No one can be the world’s best brain surgeon and leading rocket scientist all at the same time.

    What I can di is observe. Observe, not the latest “fad” in expected behavior, or what the latest self-help pundit comes up with, but observing what has actually worked in the past for a given situation. In anything we face…ANYTHING…there has been a time in human history when that particular dilemma as been faced and dealt with successfully. Observe and emulate what has worked in the past…don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel.

    “You choose.

    You pick what is important and let that decision guide you.”

    Quit doing what “they” say. Trust your gut and your observations, and do what those tell you, not what “they tell you.

    And then own your actions. Practice personal responsibility.

  2. I’ve done a lot of shit in my life. Luckily non of it proved totally disastrous. The only thing that’s paid off for me is being fiscally conservative. Live within your means (or below it is better); avoid debt; and save money. Retirement is oh so sweet as a result. I’ve got everything I need. trip is, I’m finding I’m needing less and less.

  3. Bob,
    I’ve been reconsidering. Maybe you actually can have it all. You just can’t have it at the same time. A bigger questions is whether you really want it at all or just accept somebody else’s ideas.

    Being fiscally conservative, i.e. living beneath your means is so hard to do. Hat’s off to you. As you suggest, it makes up for a lot of other mistakes.

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