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Don't Yelp at Hobos!

Friday, June 10 2005

I’ve heard a lot of people recently tout a new and 100% effective way of quitting smoking or any other undesirable habit. In the case of smoking, the most sure and effective way of quitting is to stop putting lit cigarettes into your mouth and inhaling. No sarcasm whatsoever, there is no other way to quit other than to simply stop. No amount of slaps in the face, hypnotherapy, gum, or bitter vegetables will actually amount to stopping entirely (unless the veggies or gum are blocking passage to your lungs).

The converse is also true. If you have a specific goal in mind, the most effective way of reaching that goal is to simply do it. This might require some planning or none at all, but no matter what the goal; it can be met. Consider something as simple as “I’m thirsty, I’d like a cold Iced Tea.” Pretty easy goal. It might simply require walking to the fridge. Or it might be at the grocery story, which means the tasks required to get your Iced Tea have increased. And rather than a simple drive, you might need to get gas before you can get to the grocery store. Then you might rear end someone, and spend all the bothersome time sorting it out and feeling embarrassed and getting honked at by people who are sick of driving and would like a heaping portion of french fries from the McDonalds not 100 feet away from the traffic snarl you’re contributing to. And then, despite your thinking you’ll get there and get your Iced Tea, you get a flat tire, and you’ll have to change your tire before reach your goal.

An Iced Tea can get complicated, but even still, as long as you know what to do next to get you closer to your Iced Tea, you’ll eventually get there. You might even give up, or get taken to jail or something because you flipped out after getting a flat tire and started giving people the big middle finger where you get two arms involved, throwing in some rude hip gyrations for emphasis. And that’s where some people get discouraged and give up, and think “man, Iced Tea is just not for me, I give up. Never again shall I taste the sweet yet not sweet taste of Iced Tea on my parched tongue, oh the drama!”

In my case, I would make a note for myself that said “never do the cart wheel style middle finger displays ever again, and don’t tell police men that they’re the same kind of people in junior high who simply loved orderly fire drills and Anthrax’s rapping album.”

And no, none of the above happened to me. But I was just thinking about how in life that making mistakes adds up to valuable experiences, and that every mistake I’ve made in life has motivated me to make notes similar to the one described above (though mine might only say “one hand on the beverage at all times during high turbulence” or “no need to shriek if you see a hobo climbing out of a manhole in San Francisco”). Stay in school!