top of page

3 Questions from late night Red Lights- Part Deux

In our last episode we found our “Crusading Contemplator” carefully considering the link between redundant traffic lights and Life Lesson Lists for daughters, after a sleepless night surfing the world wide interweb.. and now the exciting conclusion…(or is it just the enigmatic beginning )?

Sleepless, I found myself reaching for the internet, you know – The Land of OZ where dreams and disasters are sold to tickle our imagination and simultaneously lull us into inaction.

Lost in Facebook’s insidious attempts to expose me to “subject matter“, seemingly telepathically presented to distance me further from or closer to, some divergent political extreme, I happened across Frances Vidakovic homespun “37 Rules for My Daughter” .

As I read, I couldn’t help but wonder ” What gets into people to inspire them to share “wisdoms” learned from life experience” …their life experience

For example #21 – “Ask for what you want, the worst thing they can say is no”, # 30 ” You have enough, you are enough” and the old standby #2– “Don’t wear underwear you aren’t proud of in case you’re in an accident and they have to cut your clothes off.”

You can see the whole list here: and decide for yourself whether Ms. Vidakovic’s lessons are worth sharing with your daughter. I’m not here to judge…(well not in a “judgy” way anyway)

Further down the list, I was reminded of something I scribbled on my beside notepad in the middle of the night and I was reminded of my father.

Weeks ago I wrote the line “As if to side step pain we believe we can deny it’s existence”

I had no idea why I wrote that.

Or even how I could use it, until last night, when alone in the big empty home that once housed my family, aching from their absence, scrolling through insomnia, I began to question what is it that compels people to share lessons learned through the pain their life experience has delivered.

The paradox struck me, what is the inspiration of creating cheat sheets for the lives of others…I mean aren’t we always supposed to be chorusing Pink’s anthem “F&*king Perfect” to those we care most about?

The spoken section of the song kept echoing in my mind- “Why do I do that?…Why do I do that!?!?”

Here check it out if you need a musical interlude from this post, I found a beautiful acoustic version of this powerful song ….

Challenged by the paradox of leadership of those we care about ( I mean they’re perfect right? So why do we feel we need to add something?), I went through a whole list of negative inspirations. For Example: “We think we know better“, “We are seeking to be viewed as a guru“, “We are ‘ whistling in the dark’ -trying to compensate for our own uncertainty“, but these felt dark, gratuitous and slanderous and as anyone who knows me can attest, I have always preferred a glass half full.

Eventually I came up with 3 possible positive (albeit perhaps equally misguided) inspirations behind the default logic of “transferring the answers of wisdom

  1. The obvious one is : We wish to make life “easier” for them.

  2. We hope to provide a reference point for where the wrong turn occurred, when they find themselves in the aftermath of a tough experience and can’t quite figure out WTF! just happened.

  3. Or maybe it’s to prevent them from wasting time learning lessons that have been tried and tested countless times before, thus giving them a leg up to focus on learning more important shit. Something I like to call the Darwin Model of thinking evolution.

All are noble, responsible and even selfless inspirations.

Or are they?

The flaws in all three of these parental/leadership “best practices” are as glaring as a pimple on the porcelain complexion of a budding adolescent.

In the first approach, as far as “making life easier” I found the answer to the reason behind my late night scribble.

Disappointment Hardship, and Heartbreak are not only inevitable, they are a required component of a complete life. When we hurt, we arrive at the red light and are faced with the opportunity to pause and learn. Some of us choose to drift through the red light but almost invariably, if we distract ourselves from a lesson we need to learn, we simply delay a bigger collision down the road.

To divert those we love from their own pain is to deny them the opportunity to grow from and beyond it.

In the second possible inspiration noted above, while “providing a reference point” may appear more altruistic, just like alerting other drivers of a police trap up ahead, the truth is, sometimes when we pull up to the red stop light of pain, we may not know how we got there. Consumed all too often by the pain itself or too focused on where we want to go. So at that point we can’t even even remember the 37 wisdoms imparted by some well intentioned tourist, who has already traveled this route. Case in point: ever found yourself second guessing your GPS?.

And the third option, “prevent wasting time learning rudimentary lessons” Well that dog just won’t hunt.” Because it’s a proven fact … We learn everything from mistakes.

I mean we learn EVERYTHING… Important stuff like:

  1. Never mix the grain with the grape

  2. Never answer the question ‘Do I look fat in these?’ “

  3. No matter how smart think you appear in short term, the banks always win the long game

To share experience with the intention of saving those we love a few steps on their journey, is is a lot like expecting the student in grade 3 to skip to post graduate work in couples counselling without the benefit of having a grade 4 heartbreak.- it’s gonna leave that scholar with only a theoretical exposure to the experience.

This type of mentoring can’t provide some evolutionary leap in our gene pool (or pool of influence ), on the contrary, it will limit the life experience of others to, at best, the limitations of our own.

So dude what’s the answer ?!!??

Really?!? Have you not been listening…did you not read the title ?

I can’t give you the answer…I’m just sitting here asking questions, waiting for the light to change .

For more obtuse observations, rambling social commentary and unanswered questions, please follow me here or @


bottom of page