Good Advice, Bad Advice

To steal a line from Garrison Keeler,  “Welcome to Lake Wobegon where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”  

Over the years, writing these blogs, you, the readership, in true Darwinian style, have morphed.  You’ve become more selective, more sophisticated.  Your age demographic is over 30, sometimes a lot over, and the best word I can think of to sum you up is…thoughtful.  You’re still plugged into a 220-line which is life, and you want to learn something every day.  And I’m pretty sure you have a solid handful of nuggets of wisdom.

The interesting thing is:  Since we are all different, each of has arrived at different wisdoms, different strategies, different philosophies.   With that in mind, please take a moment to share some of your tidbits with us.  You just might change someone’s life.  …wouldn’t that be nice?

Like most people, my parents were my first source of wisdom and advice.  My very first piece of advice was from my mom who said,  “When the winds fail, take to the oars.” At age seven, I took that literally, thinking Mom must have had some seamanship training.  Later, when life got bumpy, I realized that what she was really saying was:  Never Give Up!

The corollary to this, and perhaps the most important tidbit I’ve learned was: The harder I work, the luckier I get.  That’s one you might consider tattooing on your teenager’s forehead.  Is that allowed???  Guess you’d have to tattoo it backwards so they could read it.

And, in a bit of Zen irony, the huge lessons I learned from my dad were by example of what not to do.  I learned early that alcoholism is something to be avoided at all costs.  Smoking…not so hot either, and most of all, I learned that 99% of being a good father consists of being there.  Dad was gone most the time, and when he was home, his interest in his children was non-existent.  I vowed to be there for my kid and I kept my vow.  So, okay, I learned from my dad…what not to do.  One exception:  Dad boxed in the Navy.  We had a speed bag and a heavy bag in the barn and I learned how to box.  I have a wicked left hook and my right cross ain’t bad.  More importantly, I learned to never, ever, ever start a fight.  But…if I’m hit, forget about TV- fighting which orchestrates punches like a tennis match.  Once you’re in it, 100% is the only way you fight.  I taught my son this and it has served him well over the years.

Friends:  When Pamela and I linked up…close to 50 years ago, I realized quickly that we had…have, diametrically opposite approaches to making friends.  Strangely, both philosophies work.  When we meet an individual or a new couple, they know fairly accurately who I am and where I’m coming from in the first thirty seconds.

CANDOR:  Candor is my ARMOR.  Candor is my means of communication and once in a while, my charm.  And on occasion, Candor is my weapon.  Translated, in today’s society, telling the truth has become a very muddy thing.  Sometimes, it’s best to put away the sarcasm and the polite bantering and (s’cuse my French) cut the crap.  There is no misinterpreting where I’m coming from or my position……..on pretty much everything.   What you see is exactly what you get.  Strangely, this seems the best way over the long run.

Pamela is genuinely sweet and genuinely sincere.  She’s fun and she is witty.  But, at the end of the evening, driving home, you’ll  slowly realize that you know essentially nothing about her.   I am just the opposite.  Strangely, it works and is smooth.  But the number of people who truly know Pam…adds up to one.

An odd piece of advice hit me over the head from one line in one of John Steinbeck’s novels.  He said,  “You have to be a sucker for someone.”  Huh???   What it boils down to, is we all have barriers, some eggshell-thin, some built from concrete and cast-iron.  Whatever their thickness, there has to be someone you can trust completely…even if you are disappointed.  The X-Files mantra of Trust No One, sounds cool and macho, but it’s a recipe for a lonely unfulfilling life.  Having trust, and being trustworthy are about as important as loving and being loved.   …trust me on this one.

Advice I STILL Haven’t Mastered:   Ever since Mrs. Roser’s kindergarten class at Budd Lake School, New Joisy, I wanted to be liked.  I suppose everyone wants this to some degree, though I’m not sure of this.  I know I do and I know it matters a little too much to me.  Does it dictate my actions?  Strangely, no, but that being-liked-thing has always lingered in the wings.

Developing a “Thick Skin”:  Haven’t succeeded in that either.  Probably never will.  Possibly because I write for a living, conversations (dialogue, if your characters are doing the talking) are hyper-perceived.  Both Pamela and I hear the timing and the timbre of an extra beat of silence in a conversation, a cough, clearing of the throat, a glance off into the distance, a ricktus grin, a million little clues.  And then when someone opens their mouth, well, we often know waaaaaay more than we are supposed to.  Point of Fact, though Pam and I rarely fight, it can be fomented by the mere saying of, “Okay.”   A real fight starter?  Answer with “…Hokay”  or “Fine” and the checkered flag goes down.  If you think about it, I bet you and your sweetie have your own flag words.

Resetting the Meter:   This is a family thing.  Pam knows it. Cameron does, as well as Melissa.   The reality is, EVERYONE screws up on occasion.  Everyone.  Motive is key.  Did they mean to hurt you or was it a slip-of-the-tongue?   Standing-by for all emergencies is our family meter, which can be reset ten thousand times.   What that means is, to get through life, you can’t cross someone just because they screwed up, if their motives were good.  You reset that meter…you forgive, and most important of all, you truly forget the issue.  That is how it should be.

The corollary to that is when you run across an individual who constantly sets off your meter…a toxic person of sorts, one whose main goal is to hurt or demean you.  Sooner or later the meter goes off and sooner or later you have to decide between resetting, and cutting your losses.

My advice is to reset the meter as many times as you can stand, BUT, there’s a point when you have to enact the cutting-your-losses concept.  When that finally does occur, do it quickly, instantly, and irrevocably.  No one,  not even your enemy, deserves prolonged suffering.

Last and best, that terrific and ever-present Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It works perfectly every time.









P.S.   The last bit of advice I’d give to anyone and with a 100% guarantee is this:  If your life has wilted a bit or you’re feeling your age, or feeling disappointed…any of those things, I have something guaranteed to up-your happiness.  Get a pet.  More specifically, having had many, many pets in my life, get a Boston terrier.  Their entire reason for living is to make you happy, and they succeed in SPADES.  You will never regret it.  Oogie, pictured above ,was my best friend ever.



18 Responses to "Good Advice, Bad Advice"

  1. Deborah Bellini says:

    The Golden Rule resonated with me from my very first bracelet that had the 10 Commandments as charms, I was about 5. Then comes the adage, it is what it is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Another favorite is, try to live your life in a way that when the time comes, you hopefully will have no regrets, or damn few. Learn something new everyday. Take stock in your blessings, the fact that you woke up to see the beauty that surrounds you is a good thing. To a younger person I have 3 very important bits of advice, Never screw up your credit, or your drivers license, and save money because there will be a day that you will need it.

    I think that sums it up pretty well.

  2. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Deb!

    Good to hear!

    All excellent advice.  Those last three are particularly good for the younger set…though I suspect saving money is just about the last thing on their minds.

  3. Henry Harvey says:

    I was pretty fortunate that in growing up I knew both my parents loved me. Their parenting style allowed me to learn to think for myself. Make mistakes and be responsible for them. Never cleaning up any messes I made in life. It worked.
    So my parenting tended to swerve in the far opposite direction. I learned it’s not always good to do to much for your children. Stand back and let them fall a little. It teaches them about life. Makes them stronger adults.
    Linda Schuyler

  4. Henry Harvey says:

    Yup. Same experience…though you can take anything to an extreme. It would have been nice to have a dad that was there for you at least once in a while. Pam and I had identical experiences, and so we relied heavily on each other…and continue to do so. Thanks, Linda!

  5. Henry Harvey says:

    Henry, Don’t rule out speaking to groups of teenagers who are about to face new life challenges; they often are secretly trying to make decisions; yet not knowing where–or with whom– to seek wisdom.  Your experience may turn many young lives–currently rocky or undecided–toward achievement, self discipline, and success.   Sometimes all they need is a role model who cares. 
     You’re doing a great job!      

  6. Henry Harvey says:

    Thank you, Margaret!
    But you’re waaay kinder than I am, and that’s the truth.

  7. Henry Harvey says:

    I’m very lucky to have you both as parents.

  8. Henry Harvey says:

    Uhmmmm….we never told you this… In Tachikawa AFB, Japan, where you were born, there was a mix-up in the hospital. Two bouncing baby boys and the nurse said we had to pick one. She gave us the one with the clean diaper. We figured…WTF!

  9. Henry Harvey says:

    The Golden Rule has always been important to me. “Your actions speak louder than words” is also a keeper in my book.

  10. Henry Harvey says:

    YUP!  The corollary to that is “Talk is cheap.”  Nice to hear from ya, Melissa!

  11. Henry Harvey says:

    Perserverence. And determination. How we handle adversity. And seeking peace with all those we love and being true to our higher standards. How’s that? And respecting others right to live their lives without our interference
    Bob Moravick

  12. Henry Harvey says:

    Right on the money, Bob. Give me hard work over genius every day. All these gems that we come to trust, and yet generations still have to put their fingers in the outlet just to see what happens.
    Your roomie from another lifetime

  13. Henry Harvey says:

    Don’t be afraid of tomorrow….and enjoy the day you are in.

  14. Henry Harvey says:

    You and Rick are superb examples of dedication to your kids. Five stars guys!

  15. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Henry (& Pam),

    Very insightful. I really enjoyed it.

    One thing that I have learned over the years; is that English is an inexact language. That one person can very easily misinterpret what another person writes or says.

    Just saying


  16. Henry Harvey says:

    Good point, and the reality is, you can say precisely the right words, but if you hesitate too long or emphasize one word a certain way, it can be interpreted as the exact opposite of what you intended. Life is a minefield.

    Thanks for writing!

  17. Henry Harvey says:

    Through the blogs and wisdom you both share, I’m grateful to have you still in our lives; although farther away. ( I also won’t forget you fixing my sculpture when I had my breast cancer. I needed to be able to fix things in my life then as there wasn’t anything I could do at the time to fix myself. You were so kind to repair the fountain and make me feel like I was able to FIX something. It was important for me to feel useful.)
    Know you are very much liked here.
    Wade and I, like you and Pamela are the only ones that really know each other. I’ve felt if I don’t open up, I can’t get hurt and have always been outgoing on the outside, but really very closed on the inside; except for my “1”. That seems to work for us too.

    Hope you enjoy a little inspiration from Indy.
    Love and positive energy coming your way with a hint of
    Southern hospitality,
    Pam Farrior

  18. Henry Harvey says:

    Hey Pam!

    Pamela and I feel the same way…and I sensed that you guys were also a “closed unit” Just today, a couple pulled up on the grass while we were working on Moon Dancer. We talked about the sculptures and then the wife said, “Usually writers and artists are introverts, though you seem very out-going.” It was an astute observation. Pam and I deal with a lot of people in the galleries, plus I do book signing stuff, and lectures. However…’s necessary to have a persona to deal with that. We still say what is on our minds, but basically during those times it’s also a performance. Someone said that the way you can tell an introvert is: after a party or a lecture, you’re exhausted. That’s us to a T.
    Moon Dancer is getting bigger and bigger and longer and longer. Hard to describe why, but it dwarfs our old Pax Notarius. We could land a helicopter on this one. LOTS of work, though.
    Still trying to coerce you and Wade to come down for a week or so!

    Big hug,

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