Getting your act together

In my teens I thought I'd have my act together by my 20s, and in my 20s I thought I'd have my act together by my 30s, and so on. In my 60s now, I've never had my act together. I'm not in the process of getting my act together. I'll never have my act together.

Maybe you're working on some aspect of your personality, thinking that in a few months, or maybe a few years, you'll get the knack of it and you'll be a better person. If you're trying to improve yourself, I'm rooting for you. I'm the fat guy shaking his pom-poms, sis-boom-bah, baby!

More likely, though, you're planning to improve yourself, or thinking about planning to improve yourself. Which means, most likely, you're never going to be that better person that you wish you were. Sorry.

I'm not calling you out, nor anyone else, except myself. I'm facing facts, but just my own facts, for me. Maybe you're better than me. Most people are.

When I was young, I read several self-help books, thinking they might help address my known or unknown character flaws. How to Win Friends and Influence People won me neither friends nor influence. I'm OK, You're OK convinced me that neither of us is OK. The Power of Positive Thinking downright angered me.

Any well-written self-help book probably has a couple of pages of worthwhile advice, but none of those books or several others improved my life by more than a smidgen.

Have you ever heard a baseball MVP say, "I was a plump couch potato, until I read The Power of Intention, by Wayne Dyer?" Ever heard a Nobel laureate say that his greatest inspiration was Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins? Nope, you haven't heard that, and you won't.

"You can be anything you want to be!" That's what well-meaning parents and teachers told us when we were young, and there's a sliver of truth to it. If you want to be a basketball star, though, you'd better be on that trajectory by age ten or twelve. If you want to be a doctor, you need to have your act together by high school. If you want to be President of the United States, give up, you're way too late to start the work that might make it actually happen.

Giving up is good. That's my advice, speaking as a man who gave up a long time ago. Never got my shit together and never will, but I'll be leaving it all behind when I go, so it doesn't matter. If I'm not the man I always wanted to be, well, I'm the man I am, and I like him. If most of my dreams remain dreams, then I cheerfully fart on my dreams. In not too many years I'll be shuffling off this mortal coil, but that won't matter much either. I yawn at my mortality.

Here's what matters in life: 

Did you love someone, and did someone love you? 

Have you had some fun, shared some laughs, and helped a few people along the way? 

Did you make the world an ever-so-slightly, infinitesimally better place?

If you can answer these questions yes, shake your own hand in congratulations. You're a success. Continue that success for as long as you can, and don't worry too much about getting your act together.

Republished: 5/29/2023  


  1. I was fortunate enough to be a baseball fan in the second great superstar supernova in major league baseball history. My Grandpa taught me the professional game on a couch looking at a black and white television from 1953 to 1957, and I kept watching after he died. He taught me the fundamentals of the game and taught me what to look for in a great ballplayer.

    There's a fairly new documentary out about Yogi Berra, the guy my grandpa thought was the most valuable player in the game. We watched Stan Musial, Willie Mays (my favorite), Mickey Mantle, Duke Snyder, Henry Aaron and many more greats, and Grandpa Jack told me why they were great. The Yankees were on TV a lot because they were most always in contention, so we got to see Yogi frequently. The rare day Casey gave him "off" (playing catcher is one of the harder jobs in sports), Casey would put him in right field. Casey famously said, "I never start a game without my man", and his man was Yogi.

    Jack and I would be watching the game and Jack would say, "Watch the pitcher's head." As long as he nods, everything is OK. If he shakes his head more than twice in the game, Yogi will walk out to the mound and explain their roles. If Yogi glances at the dugout, Casey will be out there with either a stern lecture for the pitcher or a hook".

    Baseball is big on stats. Several years ago, just for the hell of it, I calculated the ERAs of pitchers who pitched for the Yankees during Yogi's time there and compared them with the same pitchers' ERAs if/when they pitched for another team. Every single pitcher who pitched for two years or more with the Yankees had an ERA with the Yanks that was lower than his ERA with any other team. Yup, the Yanks had good hitters. And the Yanks had Yogi.

    Yogi didn't look graceful -- quite the opposite -- but he played with efficiency and awareness. His head was always in the game.

    I could go on, but I'll just say that Yogi has 13 World Series rings and was a three-time AL MVP. About Yogi, Casey Stengel once said, "They say I have a funny catcher. Yogi hits for average and power, has a family, and has a lot more money than I do. What's so funny about that?"


  2. And if you want to talk about how he helped his pitchers, he caught Don Larsen's WS perfect game. That's pretty helpful.

    Dude could play ball.

    Also managed the Amazing 1973 Mets. 82 wins, 79 losses in a very weak division, but the won the pennant and almost the WS. That was the run that caught my attention and made me much more of a baseball fan...


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