A recent conversation about tomatoes made me think of some of the things I wanted to share with my son now that he was at the ripe old age of 13.
It started with him asking if tomatoes were indeed a fruit. He was puzzled by this.
“You wouldn’t put them in a fruit salad, would you?” he asked. “That would be gross.”
Not all wisdom is so easy to figure out, is it?
Sometimes it comes after a hard-learned and often life-changing lesson.
I thought of the areas of life where it may be helpful to have a bit of preparation and then realized, life in general needed a Clif Notes version to help navigate it. And I thought maybe a cheat sheet would be nice.
So, I started writing some personal wisdoms that I hoped would help my son as he continued to traverse life and all of its lessons.
Make sure you marry someone you like.
Notice I didn’t say love. We use “love” for too many things and there will be times you don’t love your spouse – at all. But make sure you like them. You don’t have to have the same hobbies; you don’t have to like the same things. It could be boring if you did. But make sure you have the same morals and ethics, or you will need more than like and love to make up for a lack of character.
I knew I liked my husband when we were dating and I called to cancel our dinner plans because my beagle, Pepper, had got in the cabinet and binged on her dry food until she was sick. Instead of letting me deal with a sick pup alone, he showed up with a pizza for us and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol for the dog. Every time I am not really loving him that much, I think of him sitting on my kitchen floor giving Pep medicine.
Which leads me to the next piece of wisdom.
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.
My grandfather used to tell me he could tell everything he needed to know about a person by how they treated animals. My Pop, as hot-tempered and gruff as he could be, was a softie when it came to anything with four legs and fur. And if someone was not kind to animals, he said it often reflected a lot of their character. I have found he is usually right.
Don’t judge someone based on what they drive or what they wear.
Those superficial trappings often don’t give a very accurate picture about the success or character of a person. I have witnessed people being treated differently when they were in work clothes versus a suit or when they climbed out of a more expensive vehicle. None of those things matter and we don’t know the situation. Even better, don’t judge someone ever. Period.
Don’t judge anyone.
You don’t have any right to pass judgement on anyone’s life. Not everyone has the same opportunities or comes from the same environment that prepares them for certain things. Sometimes, people may make the wrong choice but it was the best one they could make at the time. They shouldn’t have it thrown in their faces the rest of their life; it is counter-productive and doesn’t allow them to grow.
It’s OK to not have a huge circle of friends if you have the right ones.
I have learned over my lifetime I have a very, very small group of friends. I may know a lot of people, but there are very few that really, truly care about me. Make sure in that circle you have one that will give you the hard truths with love. I am thankful I have at least one that I know will tell me when I am being a grand dork. And I know out of my friends who will hear the unspoken pain behind my words. The beauty? It’s the same friend.
And make sure those friends are truly rooting for you. If you don’t know who is, watch who doesn’t cheer for your success. They aren’t there for you, only to see you struggle.
Don’t discuss religion or politics with anyone.
It’s no one’s business what you believe. Let your actions reflect your beliefs rather than having to argue your opinion. People often can’t be swayed and will only dig in deeper to prove their point.
And remember, your character and actions always speaks louder than an opinion.
Always let people you care about know.
You never know when the last time you speak to someone will be the last. The pain and guilt you feel if you have unsaid things is torturous. Trust me.
Avocadoes are fruit, too.
And like tomatoes would be horrible in a fruit salad. But, if you smash them with some tomatoes, onions, lime, salt, you may have a good dip for chips. Just don’t put them with cantaloupe or honeydew.
As I wrote the list, I found more and more things that I needed to add. The list may, in fact, be endless. But knowing not to put tomatoes in a fruit salad is a pretty good start.