Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Phil Goldstein

Timnath has changed considerably since my wife and I moved here from Fort Collins in 2010. The number of houses has tripled, the population has quadrupled, and there soon will be two dozen retail or service enterprises where there was once only Walmart. We also now have our first parks, our own fire station, and improved roads, sidewalks, and rail crossings. The town’s administrative and police departments are almost all new since then. Town Council membership has turned over completely during that time, and it’s been instructive watching Council adapting to the challenges of this rapidly growing community, learning valuable lessons all along the way.

Speaking of lessons, in one of my previous columns I shared some that I learned from my parents. As they frustratingly hammered those lessons home, I once countered by asking at what age I might be as wise as they were. They informed me that as long as they were older than me, they would always know better! I suppose this taught me an additional lesson—I should continue learning as I get older. As I look back, I clearly didn’t learn in kindergarten everything I needed to know, as Robert Fulghum’s popular book from that time asserted. In fact, I’ve probably learned more lessons—many of them the hard way—in this last quarter of my life than in all the previous years combined, including:

  • Don’t ever raise your hand when the HOA is recruiting board members.
  • Everyone has regrets, and I’m no exception. Saying one wouldn’t have done anything differently is to lose credibility.
  • If we get a dog (eventually three), of course, he (they) won’t be allowed in the bed with us.
  • If you have to say you’re a perfectionist, certainly you’re not—think about it.
  • Show me someone who says they don’t have time for regular exercise, and I’ll show you a full DVR and/or an active social media account. And you can’t talk, text, tan or tattoo your way to fitness.
  • The favor door must swing both ways. I won’t get burned more than once if favors are not reciprocal.
  • One’s dues are never fully paid until the other fella says they are.
  • I’ll no longer suffer fools or officiousness gladly.
  • Not disrupting a group’s social fabric or appearing unable to afford something seem like surprising excuses for bad business decisions. 
  • Don’t go along to get along. It’s worth taking a few arrows if even one person appreciates what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  • I could never leave well enough alone because not much is well enough.
  • Even if you think you’ve asked the right questions, it’s all for naught when the ground rules can change. Next time you’d better ask one more question.

Like much of this column, my writing is often satirical. There are certainly a lot of aggravations at this stage of my life that lend themselves to that treatment, hence the self-gratifying, therapeutic motivation for this writing style. While a more simplistic, less opaque approach might better direct the message, the satirical approach seems more prudent (see, ‘libel’) and is far more challenging, hence enjoyable. Proper satire is often confused with a lampoon. The former is distinguished by the generality of its reflections, whereas the latter is directed at a particular person or thing. Those who know me and my particular peeves will know the difference. For the rest of you, write me and I might interpret my metaphorical musings.

Finally, thanks to those readers from whom I’ve heard about my first few NFN columns. It’s nice to know I’m connecting.

Phil Goldstein writes Tales from Timnath periodically for North Forty News. Phil is a nine-year Timnath resident who serves the Town of Timnath as chair of the Timnath Planning Commission. Phil is finally using his journalism degree after getting sidetracked 47 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column or suggestions for future columns at NFNTimnath@gmail.com.