2019 was the year I turned 50. It sneaks up on you. Last week I was 25. Right before that, 12. I’ve seen friends become grandparents, and other friends pass away too soon. Currently, I’m neither buying presents for grandkids nor dead. But either way… I’m 50. And with that, comes this knowledge.

Find your life soundtrack, add to it every day. Try to love everyone as much a random dog shows love to you. It’s never too late to switch careers. It’s never too late to eat breakfast. Always keep good canned soup in your house. Believe in fate. Trust karma. Question your instincts but know it’s probably right. Take as many pictures as you can. Hit happy hours. Don’t drink cheap whiskey. When you move out, buy a set of stainless steel pans you’ll have most of your life. You can live without a microwave. Drink room temperature water. Don’t dye your beard. If you love a T-shirt, you don’t have to throw it away… ever, but everything else goes out of fashion. Don’t wear shorts and flip flops on a plane. Don’t wear jeans to the beach. You can fall in love several times in your life. Life-changing, DNA altering true love only happens once so don’t blow it. Heart break never really goes away. Unconditional love doesn’t exist, earn someone’s love daily. Cats either hate you or tolerate you, don’t fall for their crap. Learn just enough guitar to play at a campfire. Try every food once. Go to Burning Man once. Go to Key West twice. Don’t worry if you can’t get into The Wire, sure it’s great but it’s dated. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more to get the nicer model of something, it’ll work better and last longer. Every year try to listen to something new. Listen to Cat Steven’s Tea for Tillerman when you feel down. Neil Young’s Harvest when you feel good. Present Day Country Music will never be good. Spray down the hot concrete on a summer day barefoot. Feel the warm sun on a winter’s day with your eyes closed. Hold hands. Sneak kisses. Let someone know every day you want them. Eat slower. Cook more. Only drink soda at the movies. Quality is more important than quantity with gifts. Make presents with your hands. Obscure wrapping paper is the best, even if it’s not wrapping paper. Tip too much. Always have batteries. Have too many spices. Dress up once a month and go out for a nice meal. Always dress up for Halloween. Watch bad movies and make bad jokes. Don’t worry if you can’t watch Citizen Kane more than once, it’s a great film but it just keeps getting more and more boring. Do bad impressions. Quote Monty Python. Avoid Larry the Cable Guy. Hug more, shake hands less. Tell great friends you love them. Let go of friends you’ve outgrown. Find your own level of spirituality and never let anyone question you on it. Learn how to cook the perfect egg. Don’t feel the pressure to join friends in Vegas, it’s changed for the worst. Every few years, rewatch all of Frasier. Never feel the need to watch LOST ever again. Wear fun shoes. Let someone else change your oil. Know how to fix your brakes. Keep water bottles in your car. Get at least one tattoo that represents something about you, and not an Asian word. Occasionally get high. Occasionally read a book. Talk to people about both. Journal the good times. Write poems about the bad. Stop saying “hi” to strangers, start saying “hello”. Never ride a bike bar. Stop using the word “we” when talking about your favorite team. Spend a lot on your bed, it will change your life. Only buy cage free eggs. Be careful taking eggs from friends who own chickens, the shells are weird. Use art as a second language. Don’t listen to morning DJs who laugh at their own jokes. Get a record player and your favorite music on vinyl. Learn to make the perfect Old Fashioned. Sing in the car, always. Never, ever shop at Walmart. Know you can always be a better parent. Know you can always be better to your parents, you’ll miss them every day they are gone. Take great care of your teeth. It’s okay to admit that The Last Jedi is the worst Star Wars film.

And most importantly.

You’re going to have times in your life where you start over. Sometimes completely from scratch. You’ll get through it. Even more so, you’ll shine. You’ll probably start over more than once. Each time you’ll get stronger. Think back to the worst day of your life. A day, or a time when you didn’t think you’d make it through, but guess what. You did. Now they are distant memories. You can even laugh at them a bit. Life get difficult. Bad things sneak up. Horrible things jump right in walking path. But you’ll pull up your britches and kick them in the nuts.

Life is amazing, life is hard. You’ll have horrifically down times and moments of extreme glee. Learn to be alone and learn to be in love. You think you know these things but deep down, you don’t. Listen to your heart. Listen to your soul. Listen to that tiny voice that tells you everything is going to be okay because no matter what, it will be. That gentle soul who lived to be 103, who on their death bed did nothing but smile joyfully did it. Guess, what… you can too.

I’ll finish this with more wisdom when I’m 100. I’ll read this and scoff at what a young punk of 50 I was.