What I Learned in the 20th Century | By Eric Francis


What I learned
in the 20
th Century

By Eric Francis
Planet Waves Digital Media.
Photo of Model-T from Ford Historical Archives

EVERY NOW AND AGAIN I stoop to the level of giving advice in my advice column. The supposed end of the 20th century seemed like a positively grand time to do so, particularly given that it looks fairly clear we're not sailing straight into Armageddon, The Apocalypse, or a Y2K disaster that wipes out all the blenders at the stroke of 12. Also, my contract said I had to dole out 15 more pieces of advice before the end of the year.

.......While the other leading media are busy summing up the Pearl Harbors, the Marilyn Monroes and the proliferation of the horseless buggy, and completely ignoring such small matters as dioxin and genetically modified foods, word came from On High in the Planet Waves bureaucracy this morning to do a wrap-up story on all, or some of, the pearls of wisdom I have gained during my rather eventful journey across these brief years.

.......Now, the 20th century is not over at the end of the month. One important thing I learned in the 20th century is that the 20th century ends Dec. 31, 2000, so in one year, I get to write this article again, adding what I've picked up from the momentous events of the coming months -- the Year of the Dragon, and the year of the great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction -- topics which will be covered in my more typically cosmic, dramatic and moralistic columns to be posted on the Planet Waves homepage in the coming weeks.

.......But for now, here's what I've got. Dateline: Miami Beach, Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Virgo, near the end of the greatest century of the past century.

.......If you're not fucking up, you're not doing it right. This is the key to success. Most people are very, very concerned about 'doing it right.' This is usually based on the expectations of many other people, especially your teachers in the third, first, sixth, fifth, fourth and second grades, as well as kindergarten and especially university-level literature. The problem with doing things right is that most truly meaningful things are created in processes of trial and error, that is to say, by doing it wrong. For example, it took Thomas Edison about 1,000 tries to invent the light bulb. What a fuckup. Imagine if he had given up at 933 attempts (well, okay, we'd probably have a much cleaner environment, but this is part of the same thing). So I encourage making mistakes, which are evidence of a real creative process in action. I am lobbying my senator to have this motto engraved on dollar bills, exactly where it belongs.

.......Stop hating yourself. Or at least try to. If most people did this, they would find themselves with LOTS of time on their hands. The trick to not hating yourself is doing so by some means other than creating immense distractions, including relationships where the self-hatred is perpetuated (other bits of related advice will follow throughout this column, and in my upcoming movie, "Stop Hating Yourself"). It helps to investigate the roots of the problem, and to make it a very large subject area that includes many possible variations on the theme, for self-hatred has a thousand forms, from doubt to overeating. What you also need to do, I propose, is surround yourself with people who are also consciously working on not hating themselves, while simultaneously working on loving themselves, and who love you, and listen to what they say, and listen to what you say to them, and have a good time.

.......Murphy's Law is Wrong. This law states, in pertinent part, "If anything can go wrong, it will." Were that true, the world would be lying in ruins, your house would have burned down 142 times, your cat would have eaten every threaded sewing needle you ever owned, your air bags would deploy daily, and every child would have been killed in traffic or by an oncoming train. The real law is, "God watches drunks, fools and little children." We all fit at least two of those categories, so don't worry.

.......Judge people on how they smell as well as how they look. Eventually, after the evolutionary process has worked on us for a couple of hundred more centuries and many of our lesser-minded compatriots have been selected out, we will learn to judge people based on who they are, and eventually not to judge them at all -- but for now, smelling them is a step in the right direction. If you sneeze, watch out.

.......There is a difference between TV people and real people. When I was a child, I demonstrated my prodigious intellect with my hypothesis that there were little people inside the box. Those were the TV people. Everyone else was a real people. The world is now highly confused about what I knew as a three-year-old. We think that TV people are real, and that real people are TV people. Everybody has a makeup artist and a cellphone, or wants them. Everyone is too cool for words. People can turn off their minds, and their partners' minds, with little buttons and switches. The similarities between the two species of people are striking -- they both have arms and legs, for instance. The way to tell the difference is that TV people are smaller, and they have little lines running through them, and they don't say hello back no matter how loud you scream it at them. Real people are larger, warmer, more complicated, and you can smell them.

.......Say 'hello' and 'thank you' to people. It is not necessary to treat everyone in the "service industry" like your personal slave. Let's say for instance that the same person has been making your coffee and bagel for seven months at the store you pass on the way to work. It is okay to say hello to this person. It is even okay to say, "Thank you for making my coffee and bagel," even though everyone knows you pay your hard-earned two bucks for it. You can even walk up to the telephone linemen on the highway and say, "Thank for keeping my telephone working." Nothing bad will happen you. They will not become a stalker or call the police on you. The chances are they will say hello back, or smile and say, "You're welcome," especially if you don't scream.

.......Do something you said you were going to do for five years. Make a list of all such things, and pick one. Just one. You will have a great sense of accomplishment that will help you pick something else from the list. Soon you will be on top of the world.

.......Read books. This will guarantee you a job when you are 85. You will be the only person for miles who can read. The three most important nonfiction books of the century, according to the Planet Waves Editorial Board (me) (all of them are in print), are:

Sex for One, by Betty Dodson. This is a famous book written in the '70s about why fully expressed masturbation and orgasm are very important. But they are also fun. This business of fun is a key selling point on the physical, psychological and emotional health benefits of being sexually nourished, open and unashamed with yourself first, and then with your partner(s).

Radical Honesty, by Brad Blanton. This book will help you eliminate smothering lies and denials from your life, and teach you how to be utterly honest with your partner(s), your parents and your boss. Then, you'll stand more than a rat's chance in a snake pit of being happy in this world.

The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot. This is a vitally important book relating cosmology to science to healing to the paranormal. It should be taught in school; if it were, everyone would be a lot less confused about everything.

.......Connect with the elements till you are familiar with them. Unless you are a Chinese doctor, there are four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Get to know a forest. There are bugs there, but they won't kill you. Make fire in a safe place, like on a camping trip, and study its process till you understand something about it. Visit the ocean and listen to the waves and follow the tides. Climb a mountain every now and then, and study how birds negotiate the wind. Learning about the elements will make you more human, and detechnify you in some really nice ways.

.......Listen to music. Really listen, to the point where you can pick out what the different instruments are doing, and till you have an understanding of the lyrics and understand the history of a few musical groups or musicians. Feel that dimension that they are in.

.......Learn at least one method of divination, such as Tarot cards, Runes, Astrology, Medicine Cards or one of many others. This will teach you how to think without thinking, and how to listen to the voice of your intuition, which is the same as the voice of spirit.

.......Stop worrying about what your parents think. The Bible says to honor your father and your mother. But that does not mean pandering to their every neurosis and expectation, living like it was the Great Depression, or living up to their demented view of who you are; or worse yet, trying to strike a compromise between the you who you think you are and the you who they think you are. This applies whether they are walking the planet's surface or live in Doggie Heaven; deceased parents can seem to sway considerable power over living people. Follow the Bible and honor your folks by buying them a "World's Greatest Parents" trophy, then consider the option of not letting their values run your life. This is worth making an investment as a therapy Special Project. It could take anywhere from six months to two years to get it straight; the sooner you begin, the better. The project will pay very high dividends.

.......If you encounter unconscious people, don't knock yourself out trying to wake them up. They will have fun and you will not. Most unconscious people are fully conscious that they are unconscious, which of course really makes them conscious. Unconsciousness is a game, and if you try to wake them up, you are playing it unconsciously, which means you know you are doing it. Stick to people who admit to being awake. The thing is, you will have to be wide awake to find a few of them.

.......Eat a varied diet. The ecological crisis has resulted in depletion of important nutrients from most of the food we eat. Human biochemistry is so stressed out that our bodies barely make any of the chemicals we need to survive, so we need to get them from food. The only way around these problems is diversity of diet, and careful use of nutritional supplements. Humans are blessed as omnivores. We can eat basically any food. I suggest eating all over the map, sticking to fresh food and avoiding some of the more obvious odious toxins (Nutrasweet, deep fat frying oil, artificial colorings, etc.) but that is the opinion of an amateur eater, not a professional nutritionist.

.......Be a pest. If you have a job to do, make sure you annoy everyone with the details till you get it done. Ask for help. Borrow what you don't have.

.......Learn about the cigarette scandal. Learn how tobacco companies knowingly killed millions of people with their intentionally addictive products, which contain things like dioxin, uranium, nitrates, sugar, ammonia, pesticides, genetically-altered tobacco and other yummy stuff.

.......Deal with your fears. It is possible. Most of us are plagued by our fears, and live with them day-in and day-out. THIS IS NOT NECESSARY. Not being afraid is not exclusively reserved for the high Tibetan monks or people with powerful lawyers (though it helps to be friends with both lawyers and monks). If you can't make some progress giving up your fears alone, get some help. Find a therapist or counselor, preferably one without a Ph.D. There are some excellent ones with Ph.D.s, you just have to be more careful.

.......Deal with jealousy. If you are jealous, you will never know the joy of loving someone. Love and jealousy cannot coexist in the same place and time, no matter what your boyfriend or girlfriend says.

.......Be leery of people who are sexually repressed. They are trying to commit suicide and stay alive at the same time. This is a very dangerous stunt.

.......Let go of people who hurt you. This is easier said than done, but with practice, you can do it.

.......Let go of everything else that hurts you. Know what hurts you and what helps you. Conduct an investigation, and start making decisions. This is closely related to the next bit of advice:

.......Pay attention.

.......Use time wisely. Remember that the beginning is the most important part of anything; for, as the Tao Te Ching reminds us, this is where the end is written. ++

Time Tells All | The December Monthly Horoscope

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