We all see this every day: headlines that scream, ‘Five things you should stop doing right now!’ ‘Three things you need to know.’ ‘Scared of the stock market? Do this today!’ And on and on and on, from all corners, all comers, every wannabe pundit and pretend journalist and (groan) aspirant ‘influencer.’
Who are these people? What makes them so smart? What makes them think I’m so dumb? Why do they treat me like a distracted three-year old? And what’s with the relentless, didactic language of self-improvement, as if life is one big football football match, a game you only can win if everyone around you is a coach, constantly yelling instructions? Do this. Do that. Stop doing the other thing.
So here’s where I get off the bus – cheers, folks, have yourselves a blast. This fella is about as improved as he is going to get, about as knowledgeable (or clueless) as he is going to be, about as grown up, at 67, as seems possible, or likely, or even desirable (it’s all downhill from here, anyway, isn’t it?)
Not for me the life of endless self-improvement. I’m happy as I am. With the time I have left, the attention span I can still muster, the air left in my lungs and the blood that still beats in my veins, it’s a walk in the woods that beckons, a volume of poems, an afternoon at the AGO with the Group of Seven painters, a day spent making photographs, a glass of wine, a meal, an evening with my wife.
I’m getting off the bus. But before I go, here are five things you should stop telling me to do:
- stop telling me to do stuff
- stop telling me to stop doing things
- stop saying stop. Stop saying ‘do this’ ‘do that.’ Just stop.
- in case I haven’t made myself clear, stop giving me advice
- oh, and for god’s sake, stop trying to improve everyone else. Try a little introspection, a little reflection, a little humility, even. Take a look in the mirror. Live a little. Grow up.
And finally, just in case you’re feeling a little lost right now, in need of direction, a little adult supervision, here are four things you should do: