What you learn, you learn the hard way.
Knowledge written isn’t the same as knowledge lived or earned. Things will reveal themselves. The world will present itself as you’re ready for it.
It’s very difficult to come to understanding. You’re lucky to even be on time. But there are chestnuts of wisdom hidden in plain sight. And, like regular chestnuts, you probably ignore them.
Yes, cliches. The obvious, classic lines repeated for generations. “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” “Measure twice, cut once.” “Follow @LevNovak on Twitter or be a garbage weirdo forever.” All famous, well-known sayings like these fade into static. We take them for granted and let them fade.
But we don’t parse them.
Here, presented, is the wisdom deemed both universally true and important. But we don’t live by it. We have so much we’d tell our younger selves, but learning from older, faceless generations? Forget it.
Eventually, cliches are shoved the backs of our minds as we explore new thoughts and new ideas, and, sometimes, the absolutely obvious comes back to bite us.
“Oh,” we think, after our first serious hangover. “Drinking does have drawbacks.”
“Oh,” we think, checking our gut. “The Freshman 15 is real.”
“Oh,” we think, losing four-thousand dollars in an internet hustle. “Some thinks are too good to be true.”
Cliches are stale and boring. But they’re true.
Not always, of course. Not all the time. But that sort of exceptional “not me!” attitude to the universal is a young man’s game. I thought I was an exception. We all did. Some of us still do. But the gravity of the true pulls us all the same.
You can fight it or you can use it.
I can’t tell you to live your life according to maxims and wisdom, even though that might work, because you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t, at least, and that’s who I tend to write for most truly.
So, if like me, you’re not the type to follow words, what can you do?
Simple. Find times when they’re right.
Mix true life experience with things that make sense and, eventually, you can form a sort of code for yourself. It’s good to have a vision for yourself that extends beyond lunch, and that’s something I’m just finding out for myself.
I hope you do too.
What’s been helpful for me is finding cliches that fit for me; cliches that I’m now ready to understand and embrace. If they’re just words, they aren’t ready.
If staying in on a Saturday truly feels better than going out to party, remember you can. Obvious, but we forget.
If you think you hate cooking but somehow making eggs seems less lazy than going out, remember you can. That’s obvious, but we forget.
If you think that thinking of a more cohesive vision for your present and future will make you happier than blind routine, remember you can.
That’s obvious, but we forget.
That’s how cliches work; obvious and forgotten. But it might make sense to think about the obvious that you’ve ignored and see what lessons and ideas you’ve shut off for being too stale, too lame to consider.
They might be words now. Even this article could just be words, or content, or some other tofu placeholder you’ll skip and not absorb. But, one day, it might not be. Eventually some of those old ideas might click and things that sounded vague and empty might come to mean something personal. Not because they should, in some puritanical sense, but because you’ll feel it.
Something will click. And another cliche will have unspooled.