People draw inspiration for their life lessons from different sources. Some choose spiritual leaders, some look to personal experience and some spend their money on self-help books and get-rich-quick tips. I don’t. I glean my meta-knowledge and wisdom from spam e-mails. It’s much more efficient.
Most of what I learn from junk mail is pretty trivial information that I’m already aware of. Lonely singles in Palo Alto? Sign me up! Reduce my body fat by fifty pounds in three weeks? Check! Super massive gigantic penis size? I’m on it! Apart from the dietary supplements and erection enablers, though, my spam folder doesn’t offer much in the realm of genuine wisdom that I can bring up in casual conversation (like Confucius quotes–that guy probably killed it at parties).
The rare occasion does arise, however, when someone misguidedly sends me some real deep spam. I want to share one such message and its simple wisdom. This e-mail was based on Robert Fulghum’s poem “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten (a guide for Global Leadership).” I’ve amended some of the lessons to make them more appropriate for day-to-day life.
Lesson one: Share everything. Well, almost everything, anyway. Just not my class notes. Or my house. Or my wife, hopefully. Or my PIN number. Or anything I don’t want to share. I’m sure there’s something I can share though…I’ll think of what that is.
Two: Play fair. Good advice. One can always live by this rule. Unless the other guys aren’t playing fair, in which case it’s OK to cheat. Or if it would be really easy to gain the competitive advantage by not playing fair. The end result ultimately makes it OK to cheat a little. (For reference see the 2000 Presidential Elections, Bush v. Gore, Florida.)
Three: Don’t hit people. Finally! Something we can all agree on. Unless they really deserve to be hit. Also, if they hit you first, then why not–hit them over there so we don’t have to hit them over here. Sometimes you need to hit them preemptively too just to make sure they won’t hit you back.
Four: Put things back where you found them. Yes, thank you! If you find somebody’s wallet on the ground, put it back where you found it after you take the money. After all, how would you like it if somebody moved your wallet if you dropped it in a public area?
Five: Clean up your own mess. Or subcontract somebody to do it for you. Either way, really. Oh–you can also blame it on someone else. The buck doesn’t stop at FEMA.
Six: Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Unless you’re collecting taxes. (Also, if nobody’s looking, what’s the harm?)
Seven: Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Or just say that your remarks were taken out of context. If you can, avoid a public apology to help save face.
Eight: Live a balanced life–learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Unless you’re poor and need to work multiple jobs to support yourself and your family. These life lessons are a little more bourgeoisie-oriented. Sorry.
Nine: Take a nap every afternoon. Yeah, tell your boss to f*** off. You can get someone to debrief you on the meetings you missed anyway.
Ten: Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Well, yeah, actually we do know how and why. Not really sure how we’re all like that either. Hmmm…I’ll probably have to come back to this one.
Eleven: Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup–they all die. So do we. Well that’s a little bleak. Not sure I’ve learned anything from this one. I’ll take the Viagra discounts over the ticking clock reminders. In fact, I don’t even remember the kindergarten class where my teacher told me we were all going to die. I was probably absent that day.
Twelve: Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Unless you’re trying to lose weight. Bummer.
So there you have it, invaluable wisdom provided through the magic of electronic chain messages. Even though the rules aren’t really applicable to real life, as it turns out–I guess it’s just a thought. What the hell, I don’t think I actually did learn anything in kindergarten. I think I just slept a lot. Whatever.
On a scale of one to ten, how useful was this column to you? firstname.lastname@example.org.