Did someone ever tell you something potentially very useful, but you just … let it float past?

One night years ago at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, a woman said to me, regarding her own experience raising children: “I made things too easy. I solved things they should have” tackled themselves.

I remember being surprised. Her kids went to Ivy League colleges, one was already in the workforce and excelling.

I heard real regret and sadness in her voice. But I didn’t follow up. I didn’t ask her to elaborate. More importantly, I didn’t pause to consider whether her words might apply to my own parenting.

Another time, even longer ago, a commercial fisherman in Maine told me, “It took me three careers before I figured out what I wanted to do.”

He and I were sitting in a public library watching underwater footage of fish-trawling nets. I was interviewing him for a newspaper story. I felt the force of what he was saying, as to him. But I didn’t apply it to my own situation, even though I was undeniably miserable in my job.

His message — sometimes it takes a while to find what you love, so keep looking — was actionable wisdom, a potential shortcut. It was a chance, in video-game parlance, to “level up.” I let it slide past.

A 70-year-old doorman in an apartment building once told me, “I was very good father, I wasn’t as good husband.”

At that point in my life, I myself was about to embark on parenting. The doorman was telling me something important. He was warning about putting all of one’s energy, love, and attention into child-rearing, and in the process, neglecting one’s spouse, one’s friends, even oneself. He told me this. I remember it. And then I went out and, across 18 years, did the same thing myself!

Hindsight is 20/20, of course. But it’s worth noting that people are frequently telling us exactly what we need to hear. And yet we disregard it.

Another example, from when I lived in Florida in the 1990s:  a person who knew me well quoted the late English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott.

It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.

This wasn’t a stray remark. This was an astute insight, addressed directly to me, in a therapeutic context no less. But instead of even starting to consider ways I might be “hiding,” I just kept trudging on in a career I didn’t enjoy, in a part of the country I didn’t love, with high background levels of anxiety and fear informing nearly every choice I made.

So here’s a gift I’m giving you, reader. Whether you are 30 years old or 50 — or 90! — start thinking back. Did someone ever give you the chance to level up? Did they tell you precisely what you needed to hear, but you didn’t act on it (and possibly still haven’t)?

It’s not too late. As a friend of mine says, “You can go long, but you can’t go wrong.” That is, you eventually learn the lessons you were meant to learn.

So look back. Did you miss a chance to level up? Could you still do it now?

And even if the scenario I’m describing doesn’t resonate with you, here’s a related exercise. Ask the Universe (or God, or whatever you believe in) to send you the info now. Declare yourself open to guidance which is tailor-made for your situation, whether the words are voiced by a roommate, a delivery driver, a drug-store cashier, a grandparent, whoever.

And then … fucking PAY ATTENTION.

Someone just might tell you what you need to hear.key

About Kit Troyer

Kit Troyer lives in Los Angeles. He worked previously as a newspaper reporter and a criminal defense attorney. For the last 15 years, he has been a stay-at-home dad. But that gig is running out. Kids will soon be moving out and moving on.
This entry was posted in SELF HELP. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to WAIT, SAY THAT AGAIN

  1. Reblogged this on Impossible Things Before Breakfast! and commented:
    This is very inspiring. I was looking for something to write about. Now I have an idea.

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