The Armstrong Family Circus

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Maineville • Ohio • USA

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Twenty Thirteen, The Learnering

Tuesday December 31st 2013

by Paul Armstrong


Forty one new years have come and gone (granted, there were a good dozen or more that I either wasn't aware of or didn't care) and as I get older it's impossible not to reminiscence about what accumulated in the year that's past. But there's no sense in just listing the things that have transpired in a year without taking full account of why they were and are important. If you can't determine what you've learned, whether good and bad, then you're missing the chance to improve your life — and believe me, there isn't much life to go around.



Airplanes And Airports

I've done more traveling in the last year than I have my entire life. I always idealized the thought of traveling like a typical businessman. Yet the more I travel more I hate it. Loathe it. Not just because I miss being at home and seeing my family. I'm terrified of flying. Something about increasing my odds and turbulence and crashes and dying and great, now I'm sweating and anxious and need to drink some bourbon. Also, Laguardia is an awful airport.



Brussel Sprouts

My grandmother used to serve boiled Brussel sprouts. I would gag one down and swear they were grown in Satan's garden of hate. Either I've started to love Satan's produce or my taste buds have changed. I have an unnatural love of this mini cabbage. Roasted with some olive oil and salt, pan-fried with bacon and brown sugar, sweet fat Buddha I can't get enough.




Both my wife and daughter went on anti-Anxiety medications this year and the results have been nothing short of miraculous. I don't give two shits about your ridiculous perceptions and hangups and concerns and prejudices about mental health. These medications have saved our family.



Choose To Diminish, Not Escalate

It feels great to escalate a situation. The anticipation. The emotion. The release. If someone cuts you off on the highway, then you will want to retaliate the wrong with equal measure, to balance the scales (by speeding in front of them, and putting on your brakes and flipping them off). It's embedded in our nature to seek a balance. But it's short-sighted and destructive. Amazing things can happen when you squelch that desire. Whenever you're presented with an opportunity to diminish an escalating emotional situation, do it and see what happens.



Love The Unknown

Stop anticipating the next five years of your life. Stop making resolutions. Sure it's great to have a map of where your life is heading, but the detours are what create a life full of stories worth sharing and remembering.



Question Everything

So much of life is about how we label our struggle with reality. How those labels reinforce a solidarity with our sphere of influence. The more you learn and experience the less anything makes sense; take Quantum entanglement for instance. Once you become an explorer of inquiry you will ever settle for habit and routine over meaning and purpose.



Be Childlike Not Childish

Being an adult sucks. The responsibilities compile year over year and they will kill your joy of life. The only way to combat the dismal realities of aging is to become more childlike. Build a spaceship with Legos on a Saturday morning. Have a late-night Nerf gun war in your office. Make a blanket and pillow fort in your living room. Make up phrases from initials you see on license plates. Purposefully mishear what people say. Do something ridiculous for the pure enjoyment of it, you never know where it might lead.



The Inevitable Is Inevitable

Avoiding the inevitable end of all things is nearly a full-time job. Someone you love will disappear. They will die. Sometimes they just vanish slowly. It's far better for your mental well-being (and those around you) to face the difficulty immediately. Running away prolongs the pain of a race you will never win.



Experience It For What It Is

When an opportunity presents itself that you'd otherwise never have the chance to experience, always say yes (that is, if it doesn't compromise your beliefs, empty your bank account, harm you or your family. I mean, I would think that is fairly obvious, but one can never be too sure). Don't just do something because it might help your career, do it because it will be something to hold. A story. An opportunity. A distraction. A memory. Life comes and goes very quickly. Experience as much as you can, while you can, however you can, with as many people as you can.




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