I'd Pick More Daisies
Don Herold (from 1953)

  

Of course, you can't unfry an egg, but there is no law against thinking about it.

If I had my life to live over, I would try to make more mistakes.  I would relax.  I would be sillier than I have been this trip.  I know of very few things that I would take seriously.  I would be less hygienic.  I would go more places.  I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.  I would eat more ice cream and less bran.

I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary troubles.

You see, I have been one of those fellows who live prudently and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.  Oh, I have had my moments.  But if I had it to do over again, I would have more of them - a lot more.  I never go anywhere without a thermometer, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute.  If I had it to do over, I would travel lighter.

It may be too late to unteach an old dog old tricks, but perhaps a word from the unwise may be of benefit to a coming generation.  I may help them to fall into some of the pitfalls I have avoided.

If I had my life to live over, I would pay less attention to people who teach tension.  In a world of specialization we naturally have a superabundance of individuals who cry at us to be serious about their individual specialty.  They tell us we must learn Latin or History; otherwise we will be disgraced and ruined and flunked and failed.
 
After a dozen or so of these protagonists have worked on a young mind, they are apt to leave it in hard knots for life.  I wish they had sold me Latin and History as a lark.

I would seek out more teachers who inspire relaxation and fun.  I had a few of them, fortunately, and I figure it was they who kept me from going entirely to the dogs.  From them I learned how to gather what few scraggly daisies I have gathered along life's cindery pathway.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted a little earlier in the spring and stay that way a little later in the fall.  I would play hooky more.  I would shoot more paper wads at my teachers.  I would have more dogs.  I would keep later hours.  I'd have more sweethearts.

I would fish more.  I would go to more circuses.  I would go to more dances.  I would ride on more merry-go-rounds.  I would be carefree as long as I could, or at least until I got some care - instead of having my cares in advance.

More errors are made solemnly than in fun.  The rubs of family life come in moments of intense seriousness rather than in moments of light-heartedness.  If nations - to magnify my point - declared international carnivals instead of international war, how much better that would be!

G. K. Chesterton once said, "A characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity.  Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.  One 'settles down' into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness.  A man falls into a 'brown study'; he reaches up at a blue sky."

In a world in which practically everybody else seems to be consecrated to the gravity of the situation, I would rise to glorify the levity of the situation.  For I agree with Will Durant that "gaiety is wiser than wisdom." 

I doubt, however, that I'll do much damage with my creed.  The  opposition is too strong.  There are too many serious people trying to get everybody else to be too darned serious.

  


 
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Yes, life can be mysterious and confusing--but there's much of life that's actually rather dependable and reliable.  Some principles apply to life in so many different contexts that they can truly be called universal--and learning what they are and how to approach them and use them can teach us some of the most important lessons that we've ever learned.
My doctorate is in Teaching and Learning.  I use it a lot when I teach at school, but I also do my best to apply what I've learned to the life I'm living, and to observe how others live their lives.  What makes them happy or unhappy, stressed or peaceful, selfish or generous, compassionate or arrogant?  In this book, I've done my best to pass on to you what I've learned from people in my life, writers whose works I've read, and stories that I've heard.  Perhaps these principles can be a positive part of your life, too!
Universal Principles of Living Life Fully.  Awareness of these principles can explain a lot and take much of the frustration out of the lives we lead.