Everything I needed to know I learned during freefall

I’m taking the week off to do some writing, work on side projects, and generally try to get organized (an ongoing but quixotic project of mine.) I thought I’d limber up by posting something from the archives.

Here’s something I found last week while digging through old files. High school buddy, Denny, was asked to give the Commencement Address at our old high school. He sent out a call to some of us to send in our advice. Here was mine:


Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained out


Everything I needed to know I learned during freefall.

We all graduated in 1970. That might make you think that we were in high school during the 60’s. In actual fact, South Dakota went directly from the 1950’s to the 1970’s and skipped the 60’s almost entirely with the except of a few short months allowed for transition.

Although those months were short, they were intense and we were there.

The main thing about the 60’s was that all the Big Truths about God, America, and Western History were called radically into question. All the stuff we were taking for granted became so suspect that I found it necessary to clear everything off the table and start over. My theory was that I’d examine the Big Truths one by one and let the valid ones back on. Unfortunately, none of them made it back and I’ve been forced to rely on a collection of smaller truths instead. I offer some for your consideration.

1. Life’s too short to live anybody else’s but you own.

2. Never try to psychoanalyze a cop while he’s arresting you.

3. It’s a good idea not to be any stupider than absolutely necessary.

4. Truth itself is an attempt to use limited tools to describe an unlimited reality and therefore all truths are necessarily wrong.

5. Some truths are much more wrong than others.

6. Reality doesn’t sit there waiting to be described like a mackerel on a plate. It’s a tiger that might get up at any given moment and thoroughly kick your ass.

7. Love and affection are more important that sex.

8. Sex is important.

9. The statement “If he’s so smart, why isn’t he rich” is the logical equivalent of “If he’s so smart, why isn’t he fat”. It takes a lot less money to get fat, however.

10. After reading Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Husserl, Tillich, and numerous others in search of a approach to life, the best I’ve been able to figure is that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you get rained out. All three, when they happen, have their attendant problems and it’s wise to be emotionally prepared to deal each of them.

Good luck.


Denny, this may need a quick edit. I didn’t have time to let it sit then read it over again. Also, the order of the above might could use rearranging.