Ten Things I Learned or Relearned In 2016, Part I   With the exception of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and Duck Dynasty getting canceled, 2016 was a horrible year that I limped out of. Here are some valuable lessons that I learned or relearned this year.   10. Many years ago, I visited the hospital room of a 70 year old woman who had a stroke and was dying. Walking in, I found her 94-year-old mother holding her daughter's unmoving hand. The mother looked up at me and said in an exhausted voice, "You never stop worrying about them."   One of the things no one tells you is when you have a child, if you are a good parent, you will never have another carefree day again. It doesn’t matter how old they are or what they are doing. You always worry.   No parent should ever have to outlive their child. When the actress Debbie Reynolds died planning her daughter Carrie Fisher’s funeral, it made complete sense to me. The grief must have been unbearable. You never have a carefree moment again.   9. I have a friend who has lived in the same house for the last fifty years, since he was a child. The house is well over a century old and overtime the water pipes became filled with slit, crud, and debris. It got to the point that the water pressure was so low that he could no longer take a shower and when he wanted to take a bath he had to let the water run for an hour before climbing in.   Then, through a gift of generosity, he got brand new plumbing. The water pressure was perfectly good. Two or three times afterwards he flooded out his bathroom when he turned on the water for a bath and came back to find the water spilling over the edges of the tub. I asked him how he could live like that. He replied that you just get used to it. The pipes did not clog in one day. It took decades really, for it to happen.   There is the old wives’ tale of the frog and boiling water. It goes that if you take a frog and put it in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put that same frog in tepid water and gradually increase the heat, the frog will sit in the water and boil to death.   The problem is it is not true. If you put a frog in tepid water as the water starts to get uncomfortable, the frog will leap out. It will not sit still for you. On the other hand, if you drop the frog in boiling water, it will die. The only way you can keep a frog in water that is slowly increasing in temperature is to remove its brain. In other words, frogs are smarter than people.   Too often we get used to being treated in certain ways or putting up with certain things. I have seen some of the most wonderful people in the world put up with some of the shabbiest treatment until their self-esteem gets to the point where they feel they deserve how they are being treated. Be smarter than a frog.   8. Objectively, in 2016, I met one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. We have all met one of those people, a person so breathtakingly beautiful that you wonder if you are the same species. You might both have arms, legs, hands, feet, torsos and heads, but would a jury would find you both human? They are rare, but they are out there. I paid her a compliment on how beautiful she was. She was stunned and informed me that no one had ever told her she was beautiful before.    We get up to fifteen negative comments for every positive one we receive. As you get older you realize that too many people don’t know the gifts they have and, in turn, never realize their full potential or how special they are. Please compliment people more, and stop dissing them.    7. In late November my parents were about to return to Iowa from Arizona when my father got dizzy. He spent a couple of days in the hospital and the doctors told him to make an appointment with a cardiologist when he got back to the Midwest. Believing it could possibly be one of the two blood pressure medications he was taking, he was not too worried even though he got dizzy a couple of more times on his way home.      Back in Iowa, he stopped by the clinic to make an appointment. The first they could fit him in was after Christmas. So, he stopped by the heart center, figuring they might be able to fit him in sooner. He explained what had happened to him. They got him in the same day.   What they discovered was he had a condition they called the “widow maker”. One of the arteries between his heart and his brain was 95% clogged. If he had had a heart attack, he would not have lived through it. If he had waited until after Christmas, he might not have woken up one morning.   There is the great old Russian story of the wife that was constantly at her husband’s side. One night they went to a grand party. In the course of events, she wandered off and her husband did not notice it. He turned to ask her something, but she was not there, and “for the first time he noticed her.”  Little things make a world of difference. Love those around you. Don’t turn to find they them not there and then notice them for the first time.  It might be too late.   6. My first day of college. My first class was a philosophy course with a professor named Gary Kinkel. He gave me the lowest grade I ever got in college and is still my friend to this day. I was given four bits of advice on how to get through college; show up, sit up front, ask at least one question in class, and show up at least once during the semester at the professor’s office to at least make him or her think you care about the class. So, getting the question asking thing out of the way, before class had even begun, I tried to be profound, and asked what I thought was a very simple question. He stroked his beard, looked at me, and said, “That is a very interesting question. Let me think about it.”   A few weeks into the semester, I stopped by his office to pretending to care about his class. After a nice discussion, he said, “Remember that question you asked? Here are a couple of books. Read them and stop back next week.”   I was not sure what those books had to do with the question I had asked, but I read them. I stopped back at his office and he handed me a few more books. I read them and came back. Again and again this happened. The semester ended and he had not answered my question.   I took a few more classes from him. Every once in awhile I would see him on campus and he would casually remark that he was thinking about that question I had asked. It was infuriating, and he never mentioned it again.   I kept in contact with him while I moved all over the United States, and overseas. I have seen things I wish I could forget, done things I regret, been a damn fool a time or two, lost too many people I loved. As much as I love to tell a story, there are some stories I will always keep to myself.   A few years back, I visited my old professor. It was a wonderful visit that went late into the evening. I was about to stand up to leave when he said, “Remember that question you asked when you were a freshman?”. I nodded yes. “Well, I think you are finally ready for the answer,” he said.   To understand the most important questions in life you have to be ready for the answer. The answers are seldom arrived at easily and too often, when we are young, we think the answers should be easy. We must endure time, pain, and, if we are lucky enough, we stumble across them.  The saddest part of it all is you cannot share what you have learned in life until others are ready to hear them. The seeds of wisdom come only when the field is ready.       
Ten Things I Learned or Relearned In 2016, Part I   With the exception of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series and Duck Dynasty  getting canceled, 2016 was a horrible year that I limped out of. Here are some valuable lessons that I learned or relearned this year.   10. Many years ago, I visited the hospital room of a 70 year old woman who had a stroke and was dying. Walking in, I found her 94-year-old mother holding her daughter's unmoving hand. The mother looked up at me and said in an exhausted voice, "You never stop worrying about them."   One of the things no one tells you is when you have a child, if you are a good parent, you will never have another carefree day again. It doesn’t matter how old they are or what they are doing. You always worry.   No parent should ever have to outlive their child. When the actress Debbie Reynolds died planning her daughter Carrie Fisher’s funeral, it made complete sense to me. The grief must have been unbearable. You never have a carefree moment again.   9. I have a friend who has lived in the same house for the last fifty years, since he was a child. The house is well over a century old and overtime the water pipes became filled with slit, crud, and debris. It got to the point that the water pressure was so low that he could no longer take a shower and when he wanted to take a bath he had to let the water run for an hour before climbing in.   Then, through a gift of generosity, he got brand new plumbing. The water pressure was perfectly good. Two or three times afterwards he flooded out his bathroom when he turned on the water for a bath and came back to find the water spilling over the edges of the tub. I asked him how he could live like that. He replied that you just get used to it. The pipes did not clog in one day. It took decades really, for it to happen.   There is the old wives’ tale of the frog and boiling water. It goes that if you take a frog and put it in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put that same frog in tepid water and gradually increase the heat, the frog will sit in the water and boil to death.   The problem is it is not true. If you put a frog in tepid water as the water starts to get uncomfortable, the frog will leap out. It will not sit still for you. On the other hand, if you drop the frog in boiling water, it will die. The only way you can keep a frog in water that is slowly increasing in temperature is to remove its brain. In other words, frogs are smarter than people.   Too often we get used to being treated in certain ways or putting up with certain things. I have seen some of the most wonderful people in the world put up with some of the shabbiest treatment until their self-esteem gets to the point where they feel they deserve how they are being treated. Be smarter than a frog.   8. Objectively, in 2016, I met one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. We have all met one of those people, a person so breathtakingly beautiful that you wonder if you are the same species. You might both have arms, legs, hands, feet, torsos and heads, but would a jury would find you both human? They are rare, but they are out there. I paid her a compliment on how beautiful she was. She was stunned and informed me that no one had ever told her she was beautiful before.    We get up to fifteen negative comments for every positive one we receive. As you get older you realize that too many people don’t know the gifts they have and, in turn, never realize their full potential or how special they are. Please compliment people more, and stop dissing them.    7. In late November my parents were about to return to Iowa from Arizona when my father got dizzy. He spent a couple of days in the hospital and the doctors told him to make an appointment with a cardiologist when he got back to the Midwest. Believing it could possibly be one of the two blood pressure medications he was taking, he was not too worried even though he got dizzy a couple of more times on his way home.      Back in Iowa, he stopped by the clinic to make an appointment. The first they could fit him in was after Christmas. So, he stopped by the heart center, figuring they might be able to fit him in sooner. He explained what had happened to him. They got him in the same day.   What they discovered was he had a condition they called the “widow maker”. One of the arteries between his heart and his brain was 95% clogged. If he had had a heart attack, he would not have lived through it. If he had waited until after Christmas, he might not have woken up one morning.   There is the great old Russian story of the wife that was constantly at her husband’s side. One night they went to a grand party. In the course of events, she wandered off and her husband did not notice it. He turned to ask her something, but she was not there, and “for the first time he noticed her.”  Little things make a world of difference. Love those around you. Don’t turn to find they them not there and then notice them for the first time.  It might be too late.   6. My first day of college. My first class was a philosophy course with a professor named Gary Kinkel. He gave me the lowest grade I ever got in college and is still my friend to this day. I was given four bits of advice on how to get through college; show up, sit up front, ask at least one question in class, and show up at least once during the semester at the professor’s office to at least make him or her think you care about the class. So, getting the question asking thing out of the way, before class had even begun, I tried to be profound, and asked what I thought was a very simple question. He stroked his beard, looked at me, and said, “That is a very interesting question. Let me think about it.”   A few weeks into the semester, I stopped by his office to pretending to care about his class. After a nice discussion, he said, “Remember that question you asked? Here are a couple of books. Read them and stop back next week.”   I was not sure what those books had to do with the question I had asked, but I read them. I stopped back at his office and he handed me a few more books. I read them and came back. Again and again this happened. The semester ended and he had not answered my question.   I took a few more classes from him. Every once in awhile I would see him on campus and he would casually remark that he was thinking about that question I had asked. It was infuriating, and he never mentioned it again.   I kept in contact with him while I moved all over the United States, and overseas. I have seen things I wish I could forget, done things I regret, been a damn fool a time or two, lost too many people I loved. As much as I love to tell a story, there are some stories I will always keep to myself.   A few years back, I visited my old professor. It was a wonderful visit that went late into the evening. I was about to stand up to leave when he said, “Remember that question you asked when you were a freshman?”. I nodded yes. “Well, I think you are finally ready for the answer,” he said.   To understand the most important questions in life you have to be ready for the answer. The answers are seldom arrived at easily and too often, when we are young, we think the answers should be easy. We must endure time, pain, and, if we are lucky enough, we stumble across them.  The saddest part of it all is you cannot share what you have learned in life until others are ready to hear them. The seeds of wisdom come only when the field is ready.