30x30

(via Reddit) There are lots of collections of age-based wisdom out there.  Owing a lot of my current stability and well-being to self-help books, I'm not about to criticize them.  But it's true that a lot of them suck -- they're banal, or cursory, or they contain one or two of the same gems of wisdom every other book carries, buried in a lifetime of bias and rationalization.

30 x 30 is one of the good ones. It's a collection of 30 short (less than a page) chapters summarizing advice which the author, Ian Mathias, wished he'd recieved when he was 20.

The first bit I came to that I really liked, that made me start to think this guy knew what he was talking about, was in chapter 3, "Luck is a Big Deal."

If life were a race, it’d be the most unfair contest in all of sports. Rules would change by the minute, teammates would turn to rivals (rivals into teamates), and the thing would never end — every finish line crossed would quickly reveal the blurry visage of another checkered line that feels impossibly far away. It seems to me that the best of us are more like surfers than racers, and to them life is more like the ocean: predictably uncertain, unspeakably fun if you know how to handle it, unbearably relentless and frightening if you don’t.

Kind of makes me wish I surfed.  It's not all pretty metaphors, though.  Personally, I know if I'd read this the first time it was relevant, I wouldn't have listened.  But #7, "You Can't Talk Your Way Out of Getting Dumped," is dead-on:

They’ve been eyeing the exits for days, if not weeks. They’ve worked up the courage to get you alone and past the point of no return with one of those awful “we need to talk” or “I’ve been thinking a lot” discussions. He or she decided, made up their mind, to break up with you a long time ago. It’s only news to you.

I didn't like everything about it :  At #22 he dips into religion, and while I agree with the first, second and fourth paragraphs, the "Atheism is just as much a leap of faith" thing never ceases to annoy me.  Also, the way he talks about sex and race makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but it's not like he's getting everything wrong.  More like he's leaning on the wall at the good end of mainstream, which is way better than racist and sexist, but the stuff he says still comes out sounding a little slimy.

Altogether it's a cool project that I think is worth reading.  Here's the link again.