The wisdom to know the difference | Chuck's World

By Chuck Sigars | Aug 06, 2014

I can get you there from here. No problem. A couple of right turns, a left, go about a mile, make another right, and so on.

And if you don’t care for that way, I can show you half a dozen other ways. This is my neighborhood. I’ve lived here for over 25 years. I’m aware of all the secret places. I know the quickest way for the time of day to pretty much anywhere within a four-mile radius.

This is kind of amazing, considering I was born without a navigation gene, but time will heal all sorts of deficiencies. When it comes to getting around the community, I got this.

But is that it, though? Wasn’t I supposed to have accumulated more wisdom by now, other than how to get to the Lutheran church or Trader Joe’s?

Maybe it’s just me. I haven’t polled other 56-year-olds, although I know quite a few and they seem clueless, too. They have their areas of expertise, and they’ve got plenty of brain power, but life wisdom is not a quality I associate with any of them necessarily.

And some of them still believe they’ll win a free iPad if they click on something. So no help there.

I could share some basic stuff, I guess. If I were forced to. Young people, listen up: Life is an adventure. You’re going to soar, but also fall back to Earth a few times.

Ups and downs, successes and disappointments. Be nice to each other. Celebrate diversity; don’t be afraid of the different, or to be different. Trust your instincts, and be wary of your impulses. Try new things.

See? I can deliver some wisdom if needed, unless you realize that you could get the exact same information from almost any book by Dr. Seuss.

Also? You shouldn’t hop on Pop. He has lumbar issues.

In a way, I’m grateful not to have a line of seekers in front of my house, looking for a Dalai Lama figure, most of them on a quest for serious wisdom (two of them are just wondering if I need work done on my roof, since their company just happens to be working in the neighborhood).

I like being left off the hook for humanity. I dunno. Ask somebody wiser. I mostly have jokes, people.

But it bothers me, sometimes. I wouldn’t mind a little wisdom that doesn’t involve directions or rhyming.

So, rather than feel completely depressed and embarrassed, now that I’ve admitted this, I’ll offer this one snippet of experience, particularly for you folks just starting out in life.

There are billions of people on this planet. You’re going to try to classify them, because that makes it easier, based on nationality and ethnic heritage and language and culture, on social status and profession and gender and taste in music, on the cars they drive (or don’t), on the colors they prefer, on the movies they like. On the shorts they wear.

But eventually you’ll run out of categories, because, again, there are billions of us. And then you’ll have an existential crisis, when you realize your own insignificance, and here’s where I can help. Here’s where my years can save you some grief.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they are cat people or dog people.

It’s a little broad, but it works. It doesn’t even matter whether a person has a pet or not, or what kind. Football players are dog people. Basketball players are cat people. See? Just a couple of examples.

U.S. presidents are always dog people, even if they have cats.

Some people will argue, will say they love all animals, or cats and dogs equally, or don’t care, but when push comes to shove they lean dog or cat.

I’ve always felt, personally, that I was neutral, but to be honest I lean dog. I like cats a lot. I’m just a dog person at heart.

But there is no longer a dog in this house, and now there is a cat. It all happened so fast.

Again, I like cats, in general. I like when they purr, and hop on my lap. But dogs are your friends and family, and cats are fancy guests staying at your house, assuming you feed them and clean their litter boxes. A dog would never ask for that. Most humans wouldn’t either.

Cat people know this. It probably attracts them, this diffidence, this independence, this cat-like personality. I find it admirable, too.

But for a dog person, it can be disconcerting. I’m used to dogs doing all sorts of things, but they don’t tend to surprise you. You can see dog stuff coming a mile away.

Cats, on the other hand, are sneaky. Quiet. They plan. Dogs may be tactical, but cats are strategic.

And eventually, a dog person such as myself will discover that cats have a way of categorizing, too. I may be the alpha male, the homeowner, the bill payer, the bottle washer, the egg scrambler, the grass cutter. I may be lots of things, but cats have simplified the matter, and now I know.

I am prey.

Especially early in the morning. Before coffee. When I’m at my most vulnerable.

So there you go, kids. Take it from me. Dog people or cat people. It’s not something you’ll hear from the Dalai Lama, but he knows, too. Oh, he knows.

So does his cat. But that’s all I’m saying. And don’t hop on Pop. And I mean you, cat.

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