Words of Wisdom for Life & Young Adults

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of wearable inspiration for a better world. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from “If I Were Twenty-One” by Dr. Frank Crane, published in 1917.

Podcast Transcript: I have climbed the Hill of Life (and am past the summit, I suppose). And perhaps it may help those just venturing the first incline to know what I think I would do, if I had to do it all over again.

I have lived an average life. I have had the same kind of follies, fears, and fires that most have had. I have failed often and bitterly. I have loved and hated; lost and won; done some good deeds and many bad ones. I have had some measure of success, and I have made about every kind of mistake there is to make. In other words, I have lived a full, active, human life, and have got thus far safely along.

I am on the shady side of fifty. As people grow older, they accumulate two kinds of spiritual supplies: one, a pile of doubts, questionings, and mysteries; and the other, a much smaller pile of positive conclusions. There is a great temptation to expound upon the former subjects—for negative and critical statements have a seductive appearance of depth, and much more of a flavor of wisdom than clear and succinct declarations. But I will endeavor to resist this temptation, and will set down, as concisely as I can, some of the positive convictions I have gained.

The first duty of a human being in this world is to take themselves off other people’s backs. I would go to work at something for which my fellow citizens would be willing to pay. I would not wait for an ideal Job. The only ideal job I ever heard of was the one some other person had.

While it is quite important to find the best thing to do, it is much more important to find SOMETHING to do. If I were a young artist, I would paint soap advertisements, if that were all opportunity offered, until I got ahead enough to indulge in paintings like Van Gogh, Picasso, or Dali. If I were a young musician, I would rather play on the street than not at all. If I were a young writer, I would do hack work, if necessary, until I became able to write the Great American Novel.

In other words, I would go to work. Nothing in all this world I have found is so good for you, as work.

The next thing to consider is adjustment. More people I have known have suffered because they did not know how to adjust themselves than for any other reason. And the happiest-hearted people I have met have been those who have the knack of adapting themselves to whatever happens.

I would begin with my relatives. While I might easily conceive of a better set of uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers, and so on, destiny gave me precisely the relatives I need. I may not want them, but I need them. So of my friends and acquaintances and co-workers.

Every person’s life is a plan of God. Fate brings to me the very souls out of the unknown that I ought to know. If I cannot get along with them (be happy and appreciated), I could not get along with another set of my own picking. An individual who is looking for ideal human beings to make up their circle of acquaintances would just as well go at once and jump into the river…..

Read The Entire Essay in Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons

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