birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Master Squirrel's Advice

Are you kidding? It’s all I do but give advice. I’ve got three children and a gaggle of thirtyish friends. Granted the kids are in their thirties and the advice they seek are things like “how should I handle the stock options offered by my company.” When they were younger, perhaps in their late teens, I had a panic that I as a father I had not sufficiently advised them on a host of things in life that just slipped us by. So I wrote “Boppy’s Advice,” (it's what they called me), a compendium of sage thoughts and guide to living that I thought I had not communicated to them properly. Once they had read it, my oldest said, to my relief, “man, if we didn’t know this stuff by now we’d be screwed.” So, I had, through osmosis as a parental unit communicated all my advice.

In the old days, the kids when they were little sometimes also called me Master Squirrel. That’s because when I farted I’d look up at the ceiling to the attic above and would exclaim “damn squirrels.” They thought this was hysterical. So I wrote the following memo to them when they were young adults: 

"Kids, for about a year now I’ve been feeling some anxiety that I’ve spent twenty-three years raising you but that I’ve somehow missed imparting to you essential lessons of life. Maybe I haven’t, but it’s been on my mind. So here, in the form of aphorisms, are all the things I’ve wanted to tell you that you should take to heart. You probably already know this stuff, in any case I hope you do, but it bears saying."
I divided these aphorisms into categories and the first category was “Life in General.” So here are the pieces of advice I wrote down for my kids and it turned out they knew all this shit. I had other categories like "money matters," "romantic affairs," "travel," etc.
Know yourself. Socrates said this, and he was right.
Be prepared. Be prepared for any eventuality.
Before doing anything, think of the consequences of your action.
If you can’t keep things in your head, make a list.
Don’t get excited or hysterical about the unexpected; stay calm and understand what it means first then decide on an appropriate course of action.
Always, always, have a backup plan in case the first plan fails.
If you can’t be thin, be tan.
Make sure you know the difference between your needs and your wants. You need food; you want lobster.
Remember that you are not as smart as you think you are and you don’t know as much as you think you know.
Never play the lottery. The lottery is for suckers.
Learn to enjoy the simple things in life: a new pair of socks, a beautiful sunset, the antics of a child, a good night’s sleep all will give you greater joy than an expensive watch, a flashy car. 
Smile and be nice to people.
When you enter a room, enter smiling.
When you meet people, shake their hand firmly and look them in the eye— always.
Worry about people who don’t have your fortune: but remember caring about people doesn’t mean given money to beggars– that’s the cheap way out.
Religion is simply polite superstition.
No matter what religion someone is, they’re in a cult.
For some people the world is a great unknown mystery waiting to be discovered and for others it is a frightful demon-haunted world. The first group of people become philosophers and scientists. The second group of people become priests, healers, and politicians.
Concerning the existence of God: the burden of proof is on those who believe in God because the number of things that don’t exist is infinite.
Always have something to read with you, wherever you are, wherever you go, that way if you get caught on a line you have something to do.
Make sure your environment is clean. Keep things orderly.
Keep important papers in a safe, logical place, so that you can find it.
Save your receipts for a time. You may need them to return items.
Make sure there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
The Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, is a very good motto.

This “Boppy’s Advice” goes on covering all kinds of topics. Funnily enough, I’ve had friends ask for a copy.

Now sometimes I ask advice, and I occasionally ask my children for advice. Of course I always ask my plumber for advice and my electrician.

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