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This is maybe the oddest moment of my life but it is also far from the most important. It is an indelible, insoluble small mystery shaped like a child’s ridiculous brag. What I love about this story is that it offers no sensible resolution, nor does it actually appear to mean anything in particular. It’s absurd and impossible but obvious to the naked eye and witnessed by dozens on an otherwise ordinary Spring day.  This story takes place in Greenville, South Carolina.

I was at school, in gym class, playing baseball. I was 10 years old, I was small and blond – with big glasses – and notoriously bad at sports. I came up to bat dreading the usual failure and the indifferent contempt of my teammates.

There’s the pitch, I hit the ball solidly. It sailed away from the baseball diamond all the way to the playground where it hit the middle of a HUGE tree as tall as a four-story building, and too big for me to put my arms around. The ball went THOK off the tree as I ran. As I neared first base there was a huge splintering CRACK and the tree collapsed cinematically across the playground which, thank god, was empty of kids.

The game was called on account of amazement.

I was actually carried on the kids’ shoulders into school… into the gobsmacked principal’s office for the coach to inform him. The next day the school had to hire guys with chainsaws to come and cut it up. It loudly took the entire school day. I sat through my classes listening to the chainsaws singing of my glory. As we left that day (and forever after) the carved up parts of my tree were stacked in a huge pile at the far edge of the playground like the bones of Goliath.

It was an enigma that came to visit me in front of everyone like a dazzling celebrity giving me in particular finger guns and a grinning wink. There you go, kid.

 

Oh, shut up.

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Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.

Alas, how hardly things go right!
Tis hard to watch in the summer night,
For the sigh will come, and the kiss will stay,
And the summer night is a winter day.

And yet how easily things to right,
If the sigh and a kiss of a summer’s night
Come deep from the soul in the stronger ray
That is born in the light of a winter’s day.

And things can never go badly wrong
If the heart be true and the love be strong.
For the mist, if it comes, or the weeping rain
Will be changed by the love into sunshine again.

 

George MacDonald

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Letters to my son… continued from How to people, part 1

Constructing a teenage self

  • Masculine energy is what you are shooting for but masculine doesn’t mean aggressive. When guys are fighting, the calm friendly guy with the relaxed body language who steps in to stop them is the most masculine. It’s mostly about maintaining an even keel and being ready for things. Quiet competence. Monitor your crabbiness levels and try to get them down.  Yes, cockiness can enter into this, but cockiness without the calm and ready part is a well-recognized form of idiot. Never add more than a teaspoon of cockiness to the recipe.
  • That masculine energy thing isn’t a personality substitute, it’s a background characteristic. It should be something they can see in you, not all they see in you.
    • All girls respond well to positive male energy, and negatively to its absence. We are animals, you need it to succeed.
    • But don’t go with girls who only want that masculine personality substitute or some other male stereotype. They have Daddy issues and will never value your true soul.
  • You will need a personality though, and it will work best if modeled loosely on your actual personality. {joke} Most teenagers aren’t comfortable or happy with who they are. In fact many will identify with wrong and demented ideas of who they are based on all sorts of random crap they imagine makes them more acceptable. It can take years to see a lie you tell yourself.
  • Your high school peers will attempt to crush your genuine, spontaneous personality and this can leave you acting like a flat, nothing person whose only remaining tool is irony. This is proactively avoiding disapproval by trimming your wick to please the least wonderful people nearby. They aren’t monsters, high school is just an automatic personality black hole of shame and fear because nobody knows and everyone is pretending to know. If you know that, you at least have a small step up.
    • You are halfway between caterpillar and butterfly and that is inherently stressful and weird. Confidently ride it out, it’s temporary.
    • Some of your high school peers are comfortable with themselves, they’ve learned how empty and sad it is to hide themselves from the world. Follow their lead.
    • Define yourself or others will. It’s like letting strangers estimate the value of your life and affix a price tag.
  • Notice when you are happy, and figure out why you were happy. Do the same when you feel motivated. These will help with a sense of direction, and you need one.
    • If you don’t know what you want, you don’t need to spin the wheel, you need to feel your feelings more.
    • Solitary walks pull your parts back together and align them properly.
  • Lots of personality stuff is “Fake it till you make it”. The things you fake should be aspects of a person you’d rightfully hope to become someday. It’s all theater for a while, then one day it’s part of you. You can choose to be noble, loving and true.
  • People are about 30% rational.
    • When you talk, your listeners feel your energy, look at your face and body, listen to the music of your voice and lastly, hear what you are saying.
    • When texting/emailing they IMAGINE all these things about you and bend your text to fit the mood they imagined. They don’t know they are doing this.
  • Learn about body language, and what displays mean what to the people around them. Notice your own body, how you hold yourself and move.
    • Don’t make your body be nothing but a transport vehicle for your head. Occupy it.
    • Think of cartoon characters and how they walk: Evil guy, Complete boob, Romantic lover, Hero, etc. Try the walks when you have privacy, you can actually feel the personality arrive with the walk. Then decide how you want to walk.
    • Something like yoga would do you good too. A big part of being attractive is being comfortable in your own skin.
  • Habits are really hard to break.

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