Thu. Jan 27th, 2022


Not long into the new year, I’ll be 40. On the way to what actuaries tell us is the rough centerpiece of a western male’s likely team in this valley of tears, I had the opportunity to spot a few things. I also got a platform on which I can share it. Here then, in scattered form, are one man’s life lessons: some practical, some larger in scope, very undoubtedly wrong, but all sincere.

Go for checked luggage over hand luggage. The goal is to make a multi-hour flight stress-free, not to avoid a short wait on the other side. Conversely, keep your jacket with you in restaurants and parties. You may not know when you will need to make a quick or discreet escape.

Do not befriend people in the same profession. It’s not just limiting the mind, it’s creating a single point of failure. To lose your job is to lose your social life.

Atlanta is the best city not located on the coast. All alternatives to champagne are a waste of time except Franciacorta. Exercise is almost irrelevant to weight management. People derive their politics from their tribe, not the other way around. Only mediocre restaurants ask if you enjoy your meal. Whatever you think the incidence of marital infidelity is, it is higher than that.

Your stylishness, as perceived by others, is a function of your gait and body language, not your clothes. The world is full of beautifully dressed clowns.

Eat only once a day. Do this especially if you enjoy food: better a single blowout than three apologetic non-events. Insomnia is not a waste of time: thoughts are processed and ideas are explored. There is a difference between “good” and “good enough to recommend”. Be frugal in what movies, books, and magazine articles you present to people.

Powerful men are often disappointed in their sons, and unknowingly audition for a replacement. A young man with talent and ambition can make a profit. On a related note, the fastest way to love yourself to someone is to ask them for advice.

Go away from social media. Do not ‘take a breather’ or explain your reasons: you are not a soul singer who cuts short a Vegas stay. Just go away. Alaska Airlines is the best domestic American airline. If someone is not sure if they want children, they want children. Never support an issue or idea, because the people on the other side are offensive.

To greet a taxi or get a bartender’s attention, remain completely still for a few seconds and then raise a hand. The movement will stand out in their peripheral vision. Of all the human insecurities, the least are physical. Most people accept their appearance and body shape by their mid-twenties. However, social and intellectual insecurity drives the world.

Do not take notes: the test of an idea is whether it survives without a record in the brain. Ignoring a problem in the hope that it will go away is more effective, more often than anyone will admit. A blanket refusal to attend weddings will not only save many precious weekends, it will hurt less than a selective approach. Taylor Swift knows her onions: Primrose Hill is by far the best neighborhood in London.

It makes no sense to read one book on a topic. The knowledge will not hold unless it is reinforced with at least one other, read simultaneously or directly thereafter. Outside of the big countries, Copenhagen is the most interesting weekend getaway in Europe. People are not so much judged on their appearance as their “look”: Conservatives think Emmanuel Macron is more of a liberal than he is because he has the appearance of one.

If you are thin, people will wonder why you bother to watch what you eat. Therein lies a warning about our species’ ability to take any kind of preventative action, whether against climate change or viral pandemics.

The point of romance is not just or even primarily pleasure in the here and now. It is that you will live in the later life of the (large decorated) memories. Martin Amis refers to it as your “pension”. For a coast-to-coast outing, choose Detroit Airport.

Email Janan by janan.ganesh@ft.com



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