I can’t say I haven’t had much to say the past couple of years, I just haven’t had much time to say it. Life, well, life did what life does. It got in the way. I’m not here to toss a pair of rose-colored glasses over your eyes, pat you on the back, and say congratulations, “you made it.” That’s not how life works. I was saving my words for my High School or College when they invited me back but I think I’m a bit too unpredictable for them so I ‘ll just lay it out for you right here. For those of you heading to college or into the real world, I want you to save this blog and come back to it every now and again. If you’re a parent, I want you to review it, discuss it over a couple glasses of Argentinian Malbec and then forward it to your children. These are simple facts of life, and they’re not always pleasant. Unfortunately, the puzzle pieces sometimes fall color-side down with no obvious corner-piece in sight. It’s then that you’ll think back to what Uncle Joe told you; when life is good, smile. When life is bad, smile. Stay positive when life gives you every reason to be negative.
“If there are no heroes to save you, then you be the hero” – Denpa Kyoshi
Bullying is everywhere. It’s not going anywhere. Stand tall and deal with it like an adult. If you don’t like how someone is treating you, look them in the eye and say knock that shit off. What happened to the good old “I message?” “When you pick on my (insert insecurity here), it makes me feel (insert negative feeling here).” That is how a proud, confident, adult handles a hurtful comment. Furthermore, if you are the friend of a victim of bullying, you too have an obligation to stand tall and be a quality FRIEND. Do the same. This is not the game of golf. Less is not more. This is LIFE. More is more. The more we do for ourselves – and the more we do for those we care for, the better off we will be together. Life is difficult without opinions and insults. Happiness takes a village. And I don’t mean a village of idiots.
People who are always going up the mountain are half in love with themselves and half with possibility. – Joe Caligiuri
Congratulations, you’re halfway there. At 14,496 feet above sea-level, I was three hours behind schedule, nauseous, freezing, and I had to pee real bad. With winds picking up and dark clouds rolling in, I was terrified at what was next. Now I had to go back down. I had spent so much time and energy trying to get to the top, now I was ill-prepared for the decent – the fall – the leg of the journey that no one writes about, reads about, or cares about. More than likely, you too will put so much effort into achieving greatness – whether at school, in sport, or professionally – that when it all ends, you will not be prepared for the decent – the leg of your journey that no one will care to hear about, read about, or talk about. Always keep an eye out for the dark clouds, an open ear for thunder in the distance, and never try to seek shelter to avoid the storm. Although lower, base-camp is where the journey began and your roots will always remain. The bottom of the mountain has more friends, more family, and where you will feel most alive.
My father always said, “Everyone has such kind things to say at a wake, it’s a shame I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.” – Joe Caligiuri
Llamas are everywhere. Truly, the only way to go through life is to believe that most, if not all people are genuine and kind. Like feeding peanuts to a llama, we would do anything for those we love, respect, and admire. As if the love we give were represented by peanuts and the palm of our hand were our soul, the peanuts are endless and our palm is always full. That is called living a life through faith, love, and trust. Unfortunately, llamas are everywhere and unfortunately, some are toxic. They can be teammates, teammate’s parents, coworkers, roommates, significant others, ex’s, siblings, anyone. Always be wary of a friend who struggles to give glory to others. Giving glory is one of the most self-fulfilling gestures we can do as humans and to be absent of that notion is grounds for dismissal. Life is high tide all day and the undertow is relentless. Those who enter your ocean either swim in your direction or not at all. Allow yourself to live, love, respect, and accept the same in return. If they spit in your face – no more peanuts.
Middlebury College and Dartmouth College alumni have one thing in common; they both applied to Dartmouth. – Some Arrogant Dartmouth Alum
The playing field is even. I can say with certainty that the forty hour work-week is completely dead. If you want to make it in this world, plan on being at work 50-60 hours minimum! We’re not talking time and a half either. Take your salary, be happy and grateful you have one, do your job, do it well, go home, eat, sleep, and repeat. For all you young working professionals, we don’t care what school you went to, what credentials you have, who your mentors are, where you live, what you drive, or who your daddy is. Show me a one-page resume with 10,000 hours of job related experience, an address that isn’t your parent’s, and five references that weren’t internship supervisors, then we’ll consider a meet-up to evaluate your seven points of contact and rapport with human beings. New graduates, if it’s April 1 of your graduating Spring and you don’t have a plan, get one, yesterday. Volunteer, continue your education, apply for an entry-level position, work a night shift, diversify your professional portfolio. Do something! Join the working class, not the waiting class. Employers like worker bees, not waiting bees.
“If you don’t fear it you can’t feel it.” – Joe Caligiuri
People who show no fear are cowards. During the 1968 Olympic Games, Dick Fosbury clinched his fists and trembled in front of 80,000 spectators just seconds before he changed the landscape of track and field forever. Dick Fosbury had fear, showed fear, and attempted to change history anyway. That is courage. Courage is having fear, feeling fear, and doing it anyways. I have been living in fear for nearly three years and in some instances I show it, and others I do not. You can be courageous a number of different ways – some methods involve vocal inspiration, some through living life with happiness and bravery, and others through sharing faith and support. One of the the most courageous things a person can do is admit vulnerability and ask for help. Do not internalize fear. Do not self-medicate your way into a cloud of false confidence. Fear is not weak. Fear makes us powerful. If something creates fear in your mind than it is something that is certainly worth doing. If you’ve never experienced fear and overcome it’s existence, you’ve never truly felt exhilarating jubilation.
Accidents, Suicide, and Assault. I’m 37 years old. I’ve lost count of how many high school and college friends I’ve lost to drug over-doses, car accidents, freak accidents, suicides, homicides, and illness. We all played three sports together, studied together, danced like idiots together, won, lost, cheered, and cried together. Now, two decades later, some of us are dead and some of us are alive. That’s your world too. These stories are not isolated to me, my upbringing, my socioeconomic lifestyle, or my style of living. This is just the nature and unfairness of life. Everyday you have to give the ultimate appreciation for the the absolute blessing you have been given to walk on this great earth. As seen above, the most recent data I can gather from the CDC in 2014 shows that accidents, suicide, and homicides represent 72%
of all American deaths for adolescents between the ages of 15 – 19 years old. Numbers DO NOT lie. Holding remarkably true to form despite increased education, money, and responsibilities, young professionals between the ages of 20 – 24 with an entirely different set of rules and expectations still increased their rate of death by accidents, and also possessed a greater overall representation of the big three, at 73.3%. You are not invincible. If you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something. Respect yourself. Respect your friends. Know your limits. Know your way. This is life. This is the adult way.
“Don’t tell people your dreams. Inspire them.” – Joe Caligiuri
If you don’t believe in something greater than yourself, what purpose do you have at all? Here’s a paradoxical piece of advice: your life is not about you. Not even close. We need a higher purpose that drives our actions and guides us through the tough times in life. If you find yourself searching for that meaning or higher calling, I suggest starting with the “big three”: God, Family, and Country. Within each category, you should be able to define more specific targets. For example if you live for Family, who specifically do you live for? It could be your immediate relatives, a significant other, children, close friends, or even teammates. If you live for God, be proud of your God and do not be hesitant to say so. Wear symbols of his sacrifice overtly and live within the expectations he laid out for you. If for country, or all three, find your center-self and emit the greatness that come from within. Whatever you choose, dedicate yourself to that purpose. Be the best son, daughter, brother, sister, etc. you can possibly be. Find your purpose and let it be the lighthouse that helps you navigate life’s storms. When you’re down on your luck, tired, or unmotivated, remember that it’s not about you. Medical and utility bills will pile up, unforeseen accidents will occur, your career may not play out exactly the way you planned it. Pick yourself up and remember what or who you are fighting for. More than likely you’ll be fighting for far more than just yourself. Find happiness and fulfillment not in self-satisfaction but in helping others, and you will never have a bad day. Subordinate yourself to the requirements of your calling, on behalf of whoever that may be, and enjoy a life full of meaning. A life that inspires others to do the same.