What Three Decades Have Taught Me

i found this while packing up for the upcoming move.

last year, for my thirty-first birthday, i wrote a short chapbook and gave it to a number of my friends. i also ended up giving a number of them away at the first art show in which let-off studios participated. below is more or less the complete text of the book. each page of ‘what three decades have taught me’ is separated by a “///”. each page has a single phrase of collected dubious wisdom garnered during my earlier days. it’s not that long.

what three decades have taught me:
a collection of nonsense, or is it?

by stephen b. thomas

///

thanks to:
my parents, for puttin’ me out there
my bandmates
all the girls i’ve loved before

this chapbook is dedicated to:
my father, who can’t be reached at the moment

///

if you’re a morning person,

chances are you’ll be pretty lonely
unless you go out of your way to
meet other morning people.

by contrast,
night owls
are crawling all over the place.

///

unless you’re wearing a costume,
you don’t need makeup.

please stop wearing it every day.

we all know
you’re beautiful without it.

///

there are many
more attractive,
more evocative,
and just plain more interesting
words that can suitably substitute
for “get”.

///

if you begin a song’s lyrics
with the word
“and”,
it still needs work.

///

if you’re interested in seeing
someone else,
make it a clean break with your
current significant other.

that’s just, like, plain human decency,
for crying out loud.

///

i don’t think i’ll evere understand
why people choose to endure the torture
of wearing high heels.

///

not everything revolves around
the dollar bill.

a certain amount of time, each & every
day, needs to be spent on maximizing
the time you don’t worry about money.

///

hey, homeless people
are people too.

don’t be a dick.

for example, how far out of their
situation are you, really?

///

idle time is a luxury,
not a mark of laziness.

///

marriage,
of course,
does not equal fidelity.

i recommend you skip it.

even the tax incentives aren’t
worth that much.

///

timidity just isn’t worth it.

it does not mean you’re being polite.

it just means you’re not sure about what
you really want to say, in one way, shape,
or form.

///

people who drink decaf coffee
aren’t necessarily weird or stupid.

there’s something important in a
hot, steamy, tasty drink first thing
in the morning,
caffeine or no.

///

make sure there’s at least one
individual in your life whom you
can count on
to not bullshit you,
when you ask.

///

people need to refer to
“the war on drugs”
as what it actually is:
“prohibition”.

a brief review of history will
remind us why it’s not changing
anything*, and is doomed to
always fail.

*well, a positive change, i suppose.

///

when normal people go to see a show
(film, music, or other performance),
they go because they want to be entertained.

when critics go to shows, they want to
find ways to vindicate their own opinion.

///

the two main motivations for adults
and why they do things
are money and sex,
not necessarily in that order.

“being happy”, which is frequently cited,
is obviously a cop-out answer for those
who desire both, but for some reason
are loath to admit it.

///

words aren’t necessary
for some conversations,
but they sure clear up a lot of
ambiguities.

///

don’t eat anything
you can’t figure out
how to pronounce.

///

when you take your life back
and realize you’re responsible for everything
you do
(but not necessarily everything done to you),
life becomes so much better.

///

yours is the only body you have.

treat it well.

///

if you don’t want to talk to someone
for a while, for whatever reason,
let them know.

it just might be the last thing you
ever have to say to them.

///

in
hazardous
or
life-threatening
situations,
a positive attitude is essential.

///

there’s an audience for every performer.

it may take some effort to find it, though.

///

it’s completely okay if
you don’t have anything to say at the moment.

if your words don’t add anything to the conversation,
or you suspect it may hurt someone’s feelings,
perhaps it’s better for everyone
that you keep your mouth shut.

///

every time you encounter
another person,
that’s another opportunity for you
to help that other person
feel as important as you are.

///

there are some people you meet in life
who always want drama in their lives.

if you hang around them long enough,
you’ll become part of it.

///

“you only need to worry about something once.”

a 59-year-old man with hardly any grey hair
told me that.

just the day before,
his house had burned down.

///

air guitar,
especially in private,
is good for the soul.

///

you are what you eat.
garbage in, garbage out.

///

when you’re wrong or have made a mistake,
accept responsibility for it and apologize.

most importantly,
change your behaviour just as immediately.

and make sure the affected people
know it.

///

the more strict & severe
rules become,
the more effort people will put
into skirting them.

///

when someone lets you know that
an important decision you face is
entirely up to you to make,
that does not mean they don’t care
about the outcome, too.

///

in terms of administering a country
the size of the united states,
a central government is a bad idea.

we need to downsize rule.

///

guns are tools
made for ending life.

never forget this fact.

///

gun control laws will not help the
average law-abiding citizen.

however, they will greatly assist
criminals,
who routinely break the law anyway,
and who prefer defenseless victims.

///

love shared between lovers is about
making sure all those involved
are having all their needs met.

for some reason, a pair of
salt & pepper shakers
comes to mind when I think
about this.

///

it’s important to invest trust
in as many other people as possible.

sure, you’ll be let down every once
in a while, but for the people who
really take your trust to heart,
you’ll be much appreciated.

///

little more is as conducive to life
than doing what you love.

a close second is being nice to
other people.

///

you don’t really need to
wear deoderant every day.

the same goes for shaving.

///

there are people you’ll meet
in life who think and truly believe
that they should appear to be busy
all the time, however they just want
to kick back and relax like the rest
of us. not having an immediate task
is not a bad thing, folks. so stop
thinking that it is.

///

if you consider yourself an artist
(and everyone should),
realize that every time you dissmiss
a fellow artist as crap, you’ve just given
them one more obstacle to their
continued happiness.

they’ll remember you only for that.

do you want that to happen to you?

///

sometimes,
people are just having
a bad day.

///

patience is
totally
underrated.

///

“what part of the cigarette isn’t litter?”

cigarettes are litter-in-a-stick,
sold to you in convenient packs of 20.

///

there was one time, in desperation, when i
asked an ex-girlfriend if she and i could
begins seeing one another again. i wrote
to her, “it’s like we’re both on the same side
of a huge double-door that only opens if we
both push at the same time. if we do, then the
whole world opens up before us.”

yeah, i was desperate, and of course she
turned me down, but it sure felt good to
say it like that.

///

pets are excellent companions.

keep at least one,
wherever you live.

///

imagine what it would be like as
a baby chick in a poultry factory,
and you wouldn’t want to eat eggs
anymore, either.

in terms of animals, there are plenty of
safe, nutritious, edible alternatives.

why not try a few?

///

many songs really are worth rewinding
and listening to again. several times.

///

an afterword:

i really thought this was going to be longer.

if you would like a copy of this chapbook–photocopied, decorated, and bound by hand–send me an e-mail. i’m in the mood to set up another printing run of these; it’ll most likely happen after i’ve moved.

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