Aphelion Issue 295, Volume 28
June 2024 --
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Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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There's a speech to a college graduating class that's been getting a lot of replay on a local Alternative Radio station lately. It starts off "use sunscreen." The speech was dubbed over some music and began getting lots of attention. There are even versions of it on You Tube. I'm told it has been making the rounds for years, but the basic idea is even older. Just words of what the speaker hopes is wisdom. Simple observations of the world and how it seems to work. I heard it again just days before it was time for me to write my editorial. For some reason, I couldn't get it out of my head, so I thought that typing out a few words of wisdom of my own might help drive it out. Here goes...

  • Everyone has some special talent for something. Find yours, practice it, try to become better at it than anyone else. You may not succeed, but you may get a lot of pleasure out of the pursuit.

  • Never let anyone tell you that algebra is useless. It isn't useless. It isn't a lot of fun for mathematically challenged folks like myself, but I wind up using it several times a week to do simple calculations that make my life easier.

  • Take good care of your tools. It doesn't matter if it is a $300 drill motor or a $2 calculator or a $40,000 bulldozer. Take care of it, keep it out of the weather, service it when it needs it, and it'll last you a long, long time. Even if your tools are only your education, skills, and your own two hands. Keep your wits sharp and your mind well stocked, and remember to come in out of the rain.

  • By the way, dancing naked in the rain is an entirely overrated human endeavor. All you get is wet, cold, and wrinkly-looking. Unless your significant other is the one who came up with the idea. In which case you can ignore the wet and cold, and get down to some serious romance when you both decide it's time to go back indoors to get warm and dry. Relationships are like that; sometimes you have fun, sometimes you compromise, sometimes you get upset with one another, but you are always willing to take a chance that at least one of you knows what you're doing.

  • There are many simple mechanical skills that everyone needs to learn in order to keep from being too dependent upon other people. Everyone should be willing to learn to build a bookcase, wire up a lamp, balance their bank account, build a fire, start a car with jumper cables, measure and saw boards, drive nails, drive a car, mow their yard, pack a moving van, cook simple meals, unclog a drain, paint a wall, plant a tree, throw away old junk, and change a diaper on a baby. You might never need all of those, but most of you will need to know more than one of them.

  • Pets are like children, and they have the ability to restore their owners to a child-like state of mind. Usually, this is a good thing, but it can be taken to extreme.

  • Extended families are just the same as biological families, only larger. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters- None of them mean any less to you because of that "step-" prefix. Family is family, no more, no less.

  • People seldom set out to become what they turn out to be. Life has been compared to a journey, with many detours and side trips. This is an apt description. It is useful to help you understand other people and their points of view. People are a sum of all the steps they've take along their individual journey. Some of those steps were bold strides into the unknown, some were safe strolls down familiar paths, and some were stumbling pratfalls to an unfortunate destination. Think of this the next time you have to deal with someone whom you simply can't understand why or how they came to be what they are. You still might not understand they why of them, but at least the how won't be a total mystery.

  • Critical thinking is more difficult than blindly believing everything you are told. This fact is what keeps con men in business. It also makes the advertising business possible. Don't accept everything you're told about anything. Stop and think about whatever it is. If you don't understand it, look it up, research it. You might find that you are being misled, or you might find you are being educated. Both are useful things to know. Question authority, its motives and reasons, and make up your own mind. You might still be wrong, but at least you won't be led around by your nose.

  • Never be afraid of someone else's negative opinions. Other people will always have different opinions that you can't share. Disagreement is not disloyal or incorrect. It only means that you don't think the same things in the same way that they do. You can't live a good life by appeasing everyone. Sometimes, your own happiness depends on thinking the unpopular thoughts, believing the minority opinion, or just telling "Mrs. Grundy" to STFU and keep her upturned nose out of your business. If you don't chose to run your own life, rest assured that some busybody will turn up attempting to tell you what you should, or shouldn't do with it. Such people will always be with us. One of life's pleasures is being able to tell them what to kiss, and when.

  • Life is full of disappointments, missed opportunities, regrets, surprises, unexpected pleasures, precious moments, photo ops, and joy. Learn to tell one from the other and act accordingly.

  • Saying goodbye to a loved one never gets any easier. No matter how many people you lose, each one hurts. A lot. Deal with it. Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. The older you get, the more goodbyes you have had to face. So cherish those hellos, and the memories that they lead to, because one day those will be all you have left of that friend.

  • Don't sweat the small stuff. When you get right down to it, there isn't much that didn't turn out to be small stuff. Even if it didn't look all that small to begin with.

  • Oh, by the way, the dude was right about the sunscreen.