I started keeping a journal in 1990, at the age of 17. It was one of the best things I ever did. Keeping a journal where I put my honest thoughts down on paper has allowed me a lot of introspection and self-analysis over the years. Every time I start to feel stuck in my life, frustrated, or lost, it always helps me to go back through the years, remind myself of mistakes and bad judgments, recognize the patterns and habits that led to happiness and success, and also recognize the patterns and habits that lead to hard times and disappointment.
On my 20th birthday, I decided to write down everything I’d learned at 20 years old. I kept that habit every birthday after, reflecting on things that I’d learned that year. I‘ve decided to revisit them and share some of my favorites. These are unedited, as they were written on the night of that birthday. I like the snapshot they provide of who I was that year.
I guess the best place to start is the first one…
TWENTY ~ 1993
Twenty years lay behind me,
over as quick as they did start
And the things I’ve learned, so many in number
weigh cluttered in my head and my heart
I learned no relationship is final until
you’ve made that promising vow of eternal love
That the truest friends are the ones you know
are rooted in God above.
I learned that until you question everything
you’ll never truly grow
‘Cause people won’t tell you the sides of things
that they really don’t want you to know.
I learned that men who claim to be men of God
will stab in the back their fellow man
But those who live like God is in their hearts,
don’t need to remind you of where they stand.
I learned that friends don’t stay close
if you make no effort to stay in touch
And friends who are true are those who can understand you
without you having to say very much.
I learned that the heart of a child is magic, truly magic
for it sees others with unblemished eyes
It looks at people heart to heart with an innocence
our society kills so slowly we don’t recognize
I learned that a brother or sister is the greatest gift
a best friend to be cherished to the end
And anyone can be a physical parent, but it takes a special
person to be a parent and a friend.
I learned that love is a dangerous emotion
and an even more dangerous word
But when it’s true and sincere, “I love you”
is the sweetest sound ever heard
I learned that an angry tongue is razor sharp
and its wounds are slow to heal,
That one should always follow his heart if
he thinks that the calling is real.
I learned that the things of modern society
are petty, unimportant and small
And getting out into wide open nature
is the greatest drug of all
I learned to choose my battles wisely, because
some private beliefs should stay just that.
There’s no need to force an argument jut because
someone is not where you’re at.
I learned that what government says is right and wrong
isn’t necessarily what God had in mind
We’ve tarnished the gifts that he’s given us so badly
that their true purposes are hard to find.
I learned that the perfect girl wears no bows, little make-up
and chooses clothes for comfort not name
She is content with herself and who she is,
and isn’t caught up in the “glamour girl” game.
I learned that money is merely paper and metal,
and it’s not what measures a man’s worth
Who a man is is defined by his heart and
the love that he spreads to this earth
I learned that my body is a gift from above
and I owe it to myself to take care of it
It’s not egotistical, it’s self respect to keep it healthy
and to keep it fit.
I learned when I die I want to have earned every single
belief that I ever had.
I want to be my own man, but I know I’ll be proud
if I grow up to be like my dad.
I learn that time, it goes by very quickly,
so grab each day and make it your own.
Strive to make each day that comes around
the most important you’ve ever known.
I learned that life is precious and sweet,
and should be cherished with all of my heart.
Because here I sit with twenty years passed
over as quickly as they did start.