No, you really can’t have it all.

I bought a pack of lies.

Us old guys were sold a pack of lies. We grew up in what seemed to be a golden age. We were taught that the sky’s the limit; anything goes; you c

The fork in the road

an have anything you want; you deserve it all. We never questioned those assertions and nobody got snookered more than the women. Back in the 70’s feminists announced that women were the superior sex. They told us that women were capable of doing it all without any help. You remember Helen Reddy singing ‘I am woman, hear me roar”? Men were just chauvinist pigs and easily expendable. It was great news for men and for women. Suddenly the burden of supporting a household was lifted from men while at the same time women were freed from domestic slavery. Everybody wins – or at last that’s how it seemed at the time. We all bought the story because it excused weakness and self indulgence. Nobody ever expected to pay the price because post war babies were raised to believe that all we had to do was ask and it shall be given. And nobody was ever going to have to pay.

There are limits.

All this self indulgence failed to appreciate the physical limitation of human existence- our bodies. Women postponed families past the prime reproductive years and then struggled with infertility and miscarriage while fretting about how it would affect their careers. Men failed to step up and take charge, refusing to earn enough to support the family lifestyle or take a stand and cut back. Everything just fell apart. Nobody understood what was wrong but it wasn’t how we expected life to be. And this is just what my wife and I experienced.

There is a lesson there about knowing what is important and copying good role models in your life. Listening to popular culture and the latest new ideas is always a temptation but it is far more important to observe what works. Human beings have been around for thousands of years. It doesn’t change. The human body works as it was designed and cannot be messed with. These is especially true of the reproductive cycle. Radical changes in lifestyle that conflict with tradition and biology are risky strategies. Just because an idea is new and dressed up in modern clothes doesn’t mean that it is better. But it is much easier to believe in fantasies than reality.

 And Decisions.

I messed up my life because I was naive and because I listened to the wrong voices. The real problem came from allowing myself to believe that short term thinking was enough to build a life on and not deciding for myself what was important. Sooner or later even the stupidest and most naive individual begins to sense that it is all going terribly wrong and if he has any sense or responsibility, he changes. .

Bad principles can take your life off course. Even the best of us goes off course from time to time. The point is what you can do about it and how to create value from those painful life lessons. Now that you know that you can’t have it all and that those short term goals left you far from where you would like to be in life, what can you do?

Pick what is important 

You pick what is important and let that decision guide you. You can’t anymore manage to have everything at the end of your life than at the beginning. You should have learned along the way, what things are really important and which are trivial.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Banjo Steve September 3, 2011, 5:49 am

    I don’t recall who said it, but the quote, “There are lies, and there are damn lies!” seems to fit here.

    But it’s certainly not just our generation. All through history, lies have been used to promote wars (aka “patriotism”), to keep the minions from rising up (aka “God’s will”) or keep us fearfully in check.

    To me, 90% of advertising and news is manipulation of attitudes and habits (“You deserve a break today”) or sources of distraction from the real issues (as in the “Bread and Circus” of so-called reality shows and much of the sports shows).

    But if one gets too indignant about all that, it can literally drive one bonkers. As you say, we just have to carve our own path as intelligently as we can, and leave the rest to luck/fate/destiny/heaven/Google. 🙂

    • Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle September 4, 2011, 6:54 am

      Banjo Steve,
      These days I don’t pay much attention to the noise going on. Much of it is unimportant and the rest I can’t do anything about. I am more choosy about who gets my time and my money. Finally I begun to understand the serenity prayer.
      Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle’s last Blog Post ..Why change?

  • Steve Skinner September 3, 2011, 5:14 pm

    You make an excellent point Ralph. Since retiring, I often ask myself if what I’m about to do is really important, especially if it requires a great deal of my time.
    Steve Skinner’s last Blog Post ..Traces Of The Trail

  • Bill Murney September 5, 2011, 1:00 am

    Great post Ralph, I wonder how many women regret putting careers before motherhood and eventually missing out altogether.

    Bill
    Bill Murney’s last Blog Post ..100th Post & Progress Report

    • Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle September 5, 2011, 7:37 am

      Bill,
      I would love to see a survey. But it would be too damaging to the PC controlled media.
      Ralph@Retirement Lifestyle’s last Blog Post ..Just a typical retirement lifestyle weekend!

      • Dave Doolin September 11, 2011, 9:31 am

        PC propogates by proselytization. Which won’t last against the onslaught of people who promote their values by having large families. I don’t think it can last, and as culture, we’re going down with it. Too bad.

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