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adage
don't tell me what to do
by jonas foster
10.31.05
pop culture

adage - 'a-dij - n. - a saying often in metaphorical form that embodies a common observation

Allow me to rush in where angels fear to tread.

One of the traits of human nature that constantly amazes me is how easily people will conform to a standard that was probably purposely slipped into the popular conscience to keep us all in line. I tend to break the rules. A lot. And not because I'm a rebel, usually just because I don't know any better.

Ignorance is the great conqueror of fear. Unfortunately, you only get one shot at ignorance. Before you know it, you know it.

You know?

That being said, I can see no ethical or moral purpose for adages, sayings, maxims, and proverbs. They all seem designed to marginalize the free-thinker with words that sound wise, but often ring hollow.

For example, a bird in the hand is not always better than two in the bush. The truth is it depends on how quick you are at bird snatching. I can tell you that more than once, a combination of greed, lust for gambling, and that aforementioned ignorance has often left me birdless, but a simple fact of life is, if you're not trying to double your bird intake, perpetually even, you'll end up birdless sooner or later anyway.

I mean, eventually, there's going to be some kind of bird transaction required. And even if not, inflation will someday catch up with you. Not to even get into whether or not that particular bird is growing tax-free.

All horrible bird wordplay aside, think about it for a second. Someone actually wanted you to avoid risk, keep the status quo. Hey, do yourself a big favor and don't try. Have some cake. Cake is good.

Furthermore, a stitch in time saves two, maybe three on a particularly good day, but not nine. If you need nine then ef it - turns out that's what you're going to be doing today, no matter what the plans were. So sometimes you've just got to let the tear go, before that need has you constantly stitching until eventually you're written off as some OCD pants-crazy sewing freak.

Back up and ask yourself, why are life's adages mostly backwards, usually woefully ill-advised, and often contradictory?

I mean, when you get right down to it, the squeaky wheel often gets replaced.

See, they're not all about risk and prudence either. If you have to keep shouting to eventually get what you want, you've got to consider that maybe it's either not worth achieving or you're going about it the wrong way. This saying alone has created a generation of aggressive-passive-aggressive serial manipulators who think nothing of complaining their way into a particularly comfortable zone.

Take the blinders off and you understand why the vast majority of middle management positions in the workforce today are based on the sole concept of not knowing when to stop talking.

I used to think it was all a matter of societal evolution, that we've simply grown out of the industrial ooze and have no need for these vestigial tails of puritan makehastery.

But they linger.

Find any book on Amazon about getting rich that doesn't involve pyramid schemes or other quasi-legal activities, and I guarantee you that the focus of said book is "Save your money proactively, don't get carried away with credit cards, put a bunch into a 401K." That's the long and the short.

In other words, hang onto that bird.

Even super-trendy, touchy-feely, inner-business-child voodoo like 7 Habits is really just mind-control junk.

1) You're right, no matter how it looks. Keep on keeping on.
2) Set goals you're pretty sure you can achieve.
3) Jot everything down, shit on your friends.
4) Smile. Idiot.
5) Keep your trap shut.
6) This one simply repeats the word "synergy" over and over again and it is my firm belief that this is an inside joke between the author and his buddies.
7) If it turns out you were wrong, recalibrate your view of the world so that it looks like you were right.

Now go out there and exist!

The more I think about it, the madder I get. I get slap mad. The problem is, there is a real, palpable fear involved in simply getting out of bed every morning. Routine, safety, comfort, these are all real, quantifiable, valuable commodities, and anyone who tells you otherwise, and here I'm imagining Richard Branson jumping out of a plane while simultaneously giving 0.0001% of his company to some shmuck who could balance a twinkie on his nose longer than six other shmucks, is trying to get you to kill yourself so they can have a decent shot at acquiring your assets.

It's enough to make anyone want to curl up under the blankets for five extra minutes and think about synergy.

But it's something you have to do. I hate getting up every morning knowing I could potentially make huge mistakes that will cost me ridiculous amounts of money. But I do, and I will, and it will happen, and I will go back to the beginning and start over.

And then, at that point, I might as well take a breath and stitch up my damn pants.


ABOUT JONAS FOSTER

Having spent most of the eighties in and out of various colleges, Jonas Foster ducked the 9 to 5, wrote a book, and then made a mint selling the right information to the right people. He once dated a supermodel, although he refuses to offer which one, and now habitually combs Manhattan in search of the next.

more about jonas foster

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COMMENTS

sandra thompson
11.4.05 @ 8:50a

Thanks for saying that, Jonas. Welcome to the Rushing Fools Society.



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