Several years ago, I met a man named Don Ward, the former owner of an early El Paso gay bar. In the course of our discussion, he told me he had thousands of photos from his time as a bar owner. He called the place the Diamond Lil’. As many may know, the name is a reference to Mae West, who was known as Diamond Lil’ and a friend to the LGBTQ+ community of her time.
I asked to see these photos. Don brought a few photos over at a time and then eventually an entire box. There are thousands of them. My initial thought was to use these photos in some form to memorialize El Paso gay history. There have been museum exhibits locally of far poorer specimens.
However, I seem to have historiographer’s block or something. After a couple years, I still haven’t moved on this project. Meanwhile, Don is a man closing in fast, if not already past, 80 years old. His input is crucial for context.
I’ve reached out to a few people in the community, but nothing’s come of it yet. It hasn’t helped that I have a full-time professional job and we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
What should I do?
Everyone over 50 should share a little of what they’ve learned in life. Not every person’s experience will apply to another, but in the off chance it might, why not be kind and offer lessons learned – for what it’s worth.
So, here goes.
There are few universal lessons. Humans are too varied, as are individual circumstances, to say ‘you must do this.’ So, with that caveat in mind, here are some lessons I’ve learned that would have served me so much better if I’d learned them at 25 instead of 45.
- Financial Success. Burn less cash than you make; invest the surplus in a widely diversified portfolio; make sure your investment runway is sufficiently long to achieve your financial goals. That’s the formula. The specifics may vary. One widely adopted approach is simple, aggressive, retail index investing (Vanguard) and a modest lifestyle. Regarding the latter, purchasing a duplex (for passive income) instead of a single family house; driving a modest, paid-off car; taking only infrequent vacations; and simple furnishings (purchased once and made to last) are all strategies on the expense side.
- Career Success. Do the hard career work in your 20s and 30s when you have the energy and stamina to go 20 years or more. Don’t follow your passion unless you are good at it. All the great public successes in the world did their best work as young men and women and refined their careers as they got older. Exceptions abound, but the likelihood any individual will be an exception is very low. I was no exception. Chances are you won’t be, either.
- Don’t Be a Philistine. Read books; watch movies; be an autodidact; travel; have friends. That said, it’s important to choose quality. Don’t read what others or teachers insist you should. Read what you want. Just make sure it’s the best of the genre. Same in movies. Same in learning new things and new skills. Same in choice of destination for your infrequent vacations during your working years. Same in choice of friends.
- Don’t Be a Slob. Work out; take care of your skin; dress age appropriate in clothes that fit; wear a nice watch. Develop a simple, easily maintained, and timeless style. It’ll be the most cost effective in the long run.
The inspiration for this post and video comes from these and other sources.
Wisdom I Wish I Knew 30 Years Ago
Be Warriors, Not Wokesters
For a long time, I’ve tried my hand at blogging, social media, and YouTube. After a few months, invariably my attempt sits unvisited, unviewed, and unread until I take it all down and delete my account.
While opinionated, I often feel that it’s all been said before. I acknowledge that my opinions aren’t unique. I really don’t pretend to know anything and certainly don’t pretend to know more than the next person.
Finally, these then are just notes to myself.