Been there, done that. Have you heard that line before? It signifies an experience whether funny, sad, outrageous or tame. It implies lessons learned, to the extent of being jaded over things that happened in the past.

Dead people, whom we optimistically presume to be in heaven, probably utter the same phrase while watching us from above. Life is the best history teacher. We don’t remember the dates but we do remember the lessons.

ChildPondering over my life, I thought I’d offer some lessons and corresponding advice that experience taught me.

Like, please don’t be the “sayang” guy. No, this is not about love, though well, that should be included, too. The “sayang” guy is that family member that everyone dearly loves but is always described as the one-who-could-have-made-it. “Matalino ‘yan si ____ pero sayang, mahina kasi loob.” (“He’s intelligent but alas, he’s not made of sterner stuff.”)

If you are heading towards that mold of being the family’s “sayang” guy, straighten up your life while there is still time. Life is like Monopoly. You can either end up in jail or own a railroad.

You know what would be one of life’s biggest tragedies? To be known as the “sayang” guy when one is not even beyond 30.

My advice is for my young readers to resolve not to be the girl or guy that people (read: family) have to worry about the most.

Growing up, I realized the value of being kind to myself. There was this popular book once, entitled, “Looking Out for #1.” That number one is you. No one else can take better care of yourself than you. Now that I’m ever so slightly above the age of 50, I realize that the number of pills prescribed becomes a controlling factor on how the rest of my life should proceed. With caution, of course, and a meticulous attention to how my internal organs are functioning.

I should have paid more attention to this health continuum in my younger years. Dieting becomes harder when one is already obese, tired, frumpy, and yes, old. Had I known that dropping my tennis racket for good in my thirties would result in maintenance meds in my fifties, I’d have kept playing. Plus, I do miss wearing those short, tennis skirts!

Such is life. This is why cars have rearview mirrors, I guess. Moving ahead becomes safer when you know what’s behind you.

Another fact of life: you earn less than what you’d like to spend. Someone said that it’s better to be poor all the way than to be poor, rich, then poor again. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Now, there’s another line that you’d wish the heck wouldn’t apply to you. Don’t go on a spending spree only to borrow money afterwards. Spending is like sex. Go about it in an unprotected, liberal way, and you’ll end up infected with some sort of disease.

Have a hobby and have friends with hobbies. The best discovery is to have a friend whose hobby is gourmet cooking. Encourage her or him, and with rare generosity of spirit, always be there for the requisite taste test. I love road trips. It would be nice to take friends along scenic road trips, but only if they let me decide what music to play along the way.

Taking life for granted is an idiot’s way of telling the Lord, “Thanks, but no thanks.” For those foolish enough to think that they’ll live forever, visit the nearest cemetery. Hear the silence of those who can no longer say “I told you so.”

Come on, dear readers. Seize your Sunday, and be thankful to be alive.

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Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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