Reporting Luis Prada
In life, you never stop learning lessons. When you’re young, you think you know it all. But then you grow — physically, mentally, and emotionally – and learn that you don’t know jack about squat. Learning that you know very little is a big lesson in itself. From there, you open yourself up to embracing new lessons about life, unconsciously searching for them in everything you do.
That’s all an elaborate, pseudo-intellectual way to set up a sequel to an article I wrote in June – June being long enough ago to assume you’ve grown and your brain is ready to soak in more life lessons. But instead of having to actually go out and experience life to learn these lessons, let us learn them through the experiences of others, as captured in the infinitely looping time capsule of a GIF.
Someone Will Always Judge You
You can’t wander through life oblivious to how others perceive you. If you do, there’s a good chance you’re on the brink of skinning another human and wearing their pelt on the subway, thinking all the glaring eyeballs are a result of their jealousy. At some point you will realize that there is a world outside of you, and your actions, no matter how mundanely gross or weird or non-traditional, will have an effect on others. Just as one gorilla picks a gooey trail of snot out of its nose and scoops it in to its mouth, another gorilla will stand in judgment. Even by gorilla standards, the nose-picking gorilla is breaking the social contract all primates all sign the moment we’re born.
To an extent, you have to block out what people think about you and follow your own path; you never know what non-traditional acts will spark a revolution. Passionately picking your nose and eating your boogers in public will cause revolt, but probably not the kind you’re hoping for.
There Was A Time When Everything Was Amazing
As you grow older, things become less impressive. Whether you want to take on this view or not is irrelevant; with so much life under your belt, things naturally become underwhelming. There will still be things that shock you out of your jaded state – when you’re 80 you may still find it incredible that we’ve landed men on space rocks, for example – but you will eventually lose your wild excitement and astonishment for the simpler things.
The reason this GIF of some kids freaking out over a cheap SpongeBob toy lighting up is so endearing is because it reminds us of a time when something as simple as a toy could incite such exuberant, manic joy. As an adult, you’re probably watching this GIF loop, wondering why these kids are so happy about something so uneventful. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wait ‘til these kids get a load of their first paycheck, or the feeling of buying their first car with their own money.” The things that excite you and make you happy will shift and mature along with you, but there is value in being Wow’ed by something small. You don’t need to lose your $#!+ over a toy’s face lighting up, but if you can still manage to see the fun in it, if you can still perfectly understand why a child would react that way, your perspective on life will change; you’ll be happier. Suddenly, things will rarely look bleak because your level of stimulation hasn’t been raised to near insurmountable heights.
Eventually, Even Basic Technological Innovations Baffle You
Similar to the previous life lesson, this one is about losing your ability to understand how the world around you. If you’re a young person right now, you probably think your mastery of all things technological is preparing you for a future free of gizmo befuddlement. You probably think, because you know how to check Google Maps while you’re on the phone with someone you’re tweeting about the whole thing, that you are the apex of all past, present, and future understanding of technology.
There will come a point, maybe decades from now, when all things new and electronic look like they were sent down from the heavens and were never meant for puny humans to understand, let alone incorporate in to our daily lives. When the old man in the GIF was a kid, all he had were stairs and, depending on his exact age, probably primitive elevators. He probably didn’t grow up in a world where stairs can move for you; hence, once he plants his feet, he is woefully unprepared to relinquish his grasp on forward momentum, causing him to tumble like a child trying to cartwheel for the first time. What you’re seeing in this GIF is a man coming face-to-face with an aspect of life that passed him by. At this moment, you’re probably reading this on your phone, intuitively flicking your way down the page. But at age 80, your grandkids will be flipping through and processing hundreds of pages of data that has been uploaded in to the chips in their brains, and you will freak the f*** out when their eyes roll back as they absorb an entire lifetime of knowledge in an instant.
You’ll Never Be Manly As You Want To Be…And That’s Okay
This GIF is a freak absurdity. It’s impressive in a silly kind of way, but deep down a lot of guys wish they could wheelie a motorcycle and bench a cartoonishly large dumbbell at the same time. If that man were leaving a smoldering trail of barbequed ribs and sexually pulverized vaginas in his wake, he’s be the apex of all things penis envy. Male instincts tell us that we must be the very definition Man to be of any use. Anything short of belch-reciting Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance verbatim and punching a solid block of steel until it has been sculpted in to a fully-functional supercar is unsatisfactory. There’s always that tiny part of us that wants to be the standard of manliness that all other men must strive to become yet we were just naturally born with.
Sadly for those of us that have that tiny nugget of desire in our hearts, car engines look like an M.C. Escher painting. That’s just the way we are. We like to hold on to that childhood vision of manliness and think we can one day become its embodiment, but in chasing that impossible dream, we lose sight of what it really means to be a man. Simply put, a real man is a responsible person; someone who can hold down a job and never lose sight of what really matters. “What really matters” is subjective; it can mean something else to every man. Rarely is it bench pressing or changing a carbonator in your driveway. Those are manly traits a warped society has hammered in to your brain to make you think there is an absolute definition of manliness, and it always has to do with proving you’re good at stuff that in no way helps you be a better person. And that’s how this life lesson can be for women as well. Being a good man is the same thing as being a good woman because it’s all about being good human. Riding a thing while lifting a thing doesn’t make you a good human; it makes you a silly and ultimately unnecessary human.
That being said, it couldn’t hurt to learn to do what the guy in the GIF is doing. Just think of all the ass you’d get with a party trick like that…
You’re Going To Make Dumb Mistakes As You Learn
Let’s suppose I f***ed up and actually provided you with a valuable life lesson in this article. If that happened, you reading about the lesson wouldn’t matter; you have no tangible experience with it. It’ll be like watching a Mexican soap opera and your understanding of the language is only informed by the half-semester of Spanish 1 you took in high school before you transferred to Sign Language 1 because the chicks were hotter.
Understanding a life lesson is going out there and living and generally acting like an uninformed jackass until something finally snaps in your brain and the lesson is able to flow through. Finally, the words make sense; they become tangible, you can almost see yourself hanging out with them and buying them a beer, even though they’re underage because, to you, they’re still underage lesson words.
In the GIF, the kid learned that if you fill a shovel with dirt and lift that shovel so it’s perpendicular to the ground, the contents of the shovel will ruin your $#!+. It’s a person learning a lesson, and he learned it by doing something that seems dumb to us, because we’ve already learned it. To that kid, as the dirt fell to his face like a highly concentrated dust storm, his brain was piecing things together, forging valuable connections. “Okay, so, if I fill this thing with that stuff, and then lift this thing, that stuff that’s falling at my face will hit me in the face. Hm. I’m about to feel really dumb. I’ll be sure to avoid this particular scenario in the future.” In truth, the kid is probably just thinking “AH! DIRT!” but you get the point.
That’s what life is, really – it’s all about doing things and then feeling dumb when they don’t work out, and then doing things a different way. You continue on with that cycle until you’ve found a way to do things without feeling dumb. There’s no nectar sweeter, more potent, and more addictive than not accidentally doing dumb things.