Mid – life lessons Financial Times


I will turn 40 shortly in the new year. On the way to what the actuaries tell us is the rough middle of the probable range of a Western man in this valley of tears, I’ve had a chance to notice a few things. I also got a platform where I can share them. Here, then, in scattered form, are the life lessons of one man: some practical, some larger, many no doubt wrong, but all sincere.

Go for checked baggage instead of hand luggage. The goal is to make a multi-hour flight stress-free, not to avoid a short wait at the other end. Conversely, keep your jacket with you at restaurants and parties. You can’t know when you’re going to have to run away quickly or discreetly.

Don’t make friends with people in the same profession. It’s not just a narrowing of the mind, it creates one point of failure. Losing a job means losing social life.

Atlanta is the best American city without a coast. All alternatives to champagne are a waste of time except Franciacorte. Exercise is almost irrelevant for weight management. People infer their policies from their tribe, not the other way around. Only mediocre restaurants ask if you enjoy your meal. Whatever you think the frequency of marital infidelity is, it’s higher than that.

Your style, as others perceive it, is a function of your gait and body language, not your clothes. The world is full of well-dressed sluts.

Eat only once a day. Do this especially if you enjoy food: one outburst is better than three excuses. Insomnia is not a waste of time: thoughts are processed and ideas are explored. There is a difference between “good” and “good enough to recommend”. Be frugal with movies, books, and magazine articles that you suggest to people.

Powerful men are often disappointed in their sons and unknowingly seek a replacement. A young man of talent and ambition can profit. In this regard, the quickest way to please someone is to ask them for advice.

Get away from social media. Don’t “rest” or explain your reasons: you’re not a soul singer who shortened your stay in Vegas. Just go. Alaska Airlines is the best domestic U.S. carrier. If someone isn’t sure if they want kids, they want kids. Never support a goal or idea because people on the other side are undesirable.

To call a taxi or get the bartender’s attention, stay completely still for a few seconds, then raise your hand. The movement will stand out in their peripheral form. Of all human insecurities, the least present is physical. Most people accept their appearance and body shape by the mid-twenties. However, social and intellectual insecurity drives the world.

Don’t make notes: the test of the idea is whether it will survive in the brain without a record. Ignoring problems in hopes of disappearing is more effective, more often than anyone will admit. A general refusal to come to weddings will not only save many precious weekends, but will do less harm than a selective approach. Taylor Swift knows her bow: Primrose Hill is the best residential district in London for a mustache.

It is pointless to read one book on a topic. Knowledge will not be retained unless it is reinforced with at least one other, read simultaneously or immediately thereafter. Outside of the big countries, Copenhagen is the most interesting weekend getaway in Europe. People are not judged so much by their looks as by their “looks”: conservatives think Emmanuel Macron is more liberal than he is because he looks like one.

If you’re skinny, people will wonder why you try to watch what you eat. Therein lies a warning about the ability of our species to take any preventive action, whether against climate change or viral pandemics.

The point of romance is not just or even mostly enjoying the here and now. It is that in later life you will live from (hugely embellished) memories. Martin Amis calls them your “pension”. To transfer from coast to coast, choose Detroit Airport.

Email Janan to janan.ganesh@ft.com


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