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Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – Don’t Go… Grow!

If you’re a regular viewer of The Simpsons, then you are undoubtedly familiar with the proprietor of the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.


Apu has been a part of The Simpsons since its first season (in 1990), making his debut appearance in an episode called The Telltale Head. Despite being animated, he is surprisingly well-rounded. Apu graduated at the top of his class at Caltech – the Calcutta Institute of Technology – and holds a Ph.D in Computer Science. His doctoral dissertation described an AI computer program that would play an unbeatable game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Apu took a job at the Kwik-E-Mart initially to help pay of his student loans. Apu’s last name, Nahasapeemapetilon, is a variation of Pahasadee Napetilon, a friend of one of The Simpsons’ writers. Apu is a vegan, an ardent cricket fan, and likes to design and build furniture. Apu is voiced by Hank Azaria.

As far as I know, everybody loves Apu. For almost 28 years, Apu has been (and still is) a beloved character in The Simpsons, but during the fall of 2017, there arose a torrent of negative articles about him. These articles stated that the character was racist, and by extension, The Simpsons itself was racist. Given the speed at which this change of heart occurred, I initially thought that we were experiencing what Malcolm Gladwell would call The Tipping Point.

In the blink of an eye, it seemed that the entire world was disgusted with Apu. There were articles in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Slate, The Guardian, and The Verge, to name a few. I had a difficult time grasping this sudden sanctimoniousness.

That is, until I took a closer look at these articles, and noticed a certain similarity…

Each of these sources quoted a comedian named Hari Kondabolu and mentioned his upcoming documentary, The Problem With Apu. After a while it became clear what was happening. Hari Kondabolu was using the media to promote his new film. He had something to sell, and was displaying a level of outrage and victimization that seemed well out of proportion as a response to an animated character. I suspect that he wanted to make the rest of us worked up enough to see his film. In my opinion, he was trying to create a scandal where none had existed before.

I decided to watch his movie’s trailer. Kondabolu had enlisted some of his Indian friends to join him in his outrage, so it would appear that he wasn’t alone in his ranting. When he started to say that he liked The Simpsons, his friend (whose hatred for Apu was so all-consuming that it made him despise the entire series) wouldn’t let Hari finish his thought. He interrupted Hari, and them proceeded to insert words into his mouth “[Because] you hate yourself“.

This was manufactured outrage, and I wasn’t buying it for a second. Judging by the vast majority of the people commenting on this YouTube video, neither was anyone else. In fact, the commenters made a number of good points:

  • Everyone gets lampooned in The Simpsons. That’s the point of the show.
  • Groundskeeper Willie is portrayed much more negatively as an ornery Scotsman. Mr. Burns possesses all of the negative qualities of an evil capitalist.
  • Are Americans actually blaming an animated character for what they perceive as limited opportunities in their lives?
  • I don’t care if he’s voiced by a non-Indian actor. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
  • Apu has been treated well by the show’s writers. He owns his own business, he married a nice woman and they are raising a family together. He’s a hard worker, he respects his culture and he is generally happy.

If Shakespeare were alive, he would have summarized this issue thusly: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing“, or perhaps as one commenter put it “Much Apu about nothing“.

At this point, I was ready to dismiss the whole thing as the bombastic histrionics of one individual, done in order to promote his documentary… except for two things:

  • Hank Azaria responded to these articles and comments on the speculation that Apu may no longer be part of The Simpsons.
  • Kondabolu does make a good point. After almost 28 years, Apu’s character hasn’t changed much. While he did get married, have children and now appears to own the Kwik-E-Mart, his character has remained essentially static.

During this time, the disparity between television and reality was growing. The cultural makeup of our society has changed, along with our perception and acceptance of immigrants. Indian actors are appearing in more American television shows and are portraying people in prestigious professions: Mindy Kaling is a doctor in The Mindy Project; Kunal Nayyar plays an astrophysicist in The Big Bang Theory; Paull Walia has starred as a doctor in several television series, including Grey’s Anatomy, General Hospital and The Young & The Restless.

Kondabolu is reminding us that, even as an animated caricature, Apu no longer represents South Asians in North America. What’s going to happen to Apu? In one article, the interviewer asks Hari Kondabolu about rumours that Apu’s character will be killed off, He replies “I’d feel mixed about it… There’s more creative solutions, but it’s easier to kill off the character than change.

But does this mean that Apu should be kicked to the proverbial curb? Only if you believe that animated characters must remain static forever and are incapable of developing. Killing Apu’s character, or otherwise writing him out of the show, is nothing more than an emotional response and a myopic knee-jerk reaction. There are better ways to handle this situation. One that I’d like to propose is allowing Apu to grow and develop. Apu’s character shouldn’t be as flat as his two-dimensional animation.

Raj With Drink

Character growth has already been demonstrated in a recent television series, and in my opinion quite effectively. During the first season of The Big Bang Theory, Raj Koothrappali suffered from selective mutism – he wasn’t able to speak in the presence of women who weren’t related to him. Personally, I thought this running joke was getting old quickly, and I suspect that the BBT show’s writers did as well, since they created a loophole for him during the eighth episode of the first season: he could speak to women, but only after consuming alcohol. Soon, Raj almost always had a drink in his hand. By the sixth season, Raj’s selective mutism was purged entirely after his girlfriend, Lucy, broke up with him. Raj’s character evolved considerably since the series started. The Simpsons is now in its 29th season.

My vision is the development of Apu during a season-long story arc. I feel that this is the most realistic way to go about it, since no one is going to buy a sudden awakening or a life-changing epiphany. During the course of an entire season, I’d like to see Apu slowly observe the world changing around him, and then realize that new opportunities abound. Here are some subplot ideas that can be wovwn into the main stories:


Character Development Scenes

Episode 1 Goal: Apu encounters and interacts with non-stereotypical Indians.
Scene: Russell Peters is driving through Springfield, and stops at the Kwik-E-Mart for a drink and some snacks. As Russell is paying for his items, he strikes up a conversation with Apu. After some small talk…

Apu: It’s nice meeting you. My name is Apu.
Russell: Everyone is so friendly in this town. Nice meeting you, too. My name’s Russell.
Apu: Russell? That’s your name?
Russell: Yes, my name is Russell. Russell Peters.
Apu: [leans in closer. Speaks softly, conspiratorially] Come on. I’m Indian, you’re Indian… what’s your real name?


Episode 2 Goal: Apu sees limitless opportunities for Indians, well beyond beyond the Kwik-E-Mart.
Scene 1: Apu is watching TV and hears a news story about Microsoft, including a short interview with its CEO. Apu was expecting Bill Gates, and is astounded to learn that its CEO is Satya Nadella.
Scene 2: Later that week, there is a news story about Google. Apu is expecting a brief statement from Larry & Sergey, and is once again shocked to learn that Google’s CEO is Sundar Pichai. Apu starts to realize that America is indeed the land of opportunity for everyone, and wonders whether he can do more with his life than manage the Kwik-E-Mart.


Multi-Episode Story Arc

Each year, the Kwik-E-Mart franchisees meet in a different city for their annual convention. This year, they are meeting in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley. While at the hotel, Apu meets up with some other franchisees, and they share entertaining stories about their stores and customers, as well as trading Squishee machine maintenance tips. The group agrees to meet at a nearby restaurant for lunch, but Apu doesn’t hear them – he’s wandered off to another corner of the room, and is marvelling at a prototype of a new Squishee machine. When he returns, his group is gone, and he now has to forage the neighbourhood himself and find a place to eat.

Apu walks a couple of blocks and finds a small restaurant, not too far from Stanford University. As he is waiting for his food, he overhears a group of young people at the next table discussing their work and a couple of particularly perplexing coding and AI problems. Apu gets up, walks over and offers to help – after all, he did code an unbeatable Tic-Tac-Toe program as part of his Ph.D thesis in Computer Science, and is quite familiar with the theoretical and practical applications of artificial intelligence.

As it turns out, these young people are all Google engineers, and they are astounded by Apu’s programming insights. They initially assume that he’s visiting professor at Stanford, since the restaurant is frequented by its faculty. Their conversation becomes quite animated: Apu’s solutions could have applications in Google’s self-driving cars, and could form the foundation of an enhanced search engine that knows what you’re about to search for before you even start typing. One of them notes “If we embed his designs into Google Glass, it might become something that people actually want to wear this time. I think Sergey will be absolutely thrilled, since Google Glass was his pet project.” They invite Apu to join them at the Googleplex that afternoon, to meet with their boss.


The Cliffhanger: Apu is hesitant. There’s an important seminar starting in less than an hour. They are going to demonstrate the Squishee machine prototype, and announce a couple of new flavours for next year. He’s going to know what those flavours are before anyone else. On the other hand, he’s never been inside the Googleplex before. He now stands at a fork in the road, and is genuinely undecided.

I’ve written a lot more, but this is how the story arc would begin.


Closing Thoughts

I can understand where Hari Kondabolu is coming from. During the past quarter century, our cultural landscape has shifted, moving slowly and almost imperceptibly, like tectonic plates, until the continual movement culminates in an earthquake. Suddenly, we are jolted awake, with the the realization that Apu is no longer an accurate representation of South Asians in North America. However, it’s not to late to develop and enhance his character. Let’s make this a positive growth experience for all of us.




How I Would Deal With Celebrities Who Harass Women

The dominoes have started to fall, and they are now tumbling faster and faster. At this moment, we are living through what Malcolm Gladwell would call The Tipping Point.

Hollywood Sign

We are now all uncomfortably aware of this poorly-kept secret: women in the entertainment industry have been sexually harassed and assaulted by men in power, but rarely has anything been done about it. The tides started to turn in October 2014, when Bill Cosby was accused of multiple drug-facilitated sexual assaults. At first, we didn’t want to believe it – as Cliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby was America’s father during the 1980s. He liked Jello pudding and he didn’t swear during his comedy routines. What’s not to like? Then, as more and more women came forward, it became clear that our safe, comfortable reality was about to come crashing down. The number of accusers kept climbing until the total surpassed 50. This could not longer be a conspiracy or a collusion – we needed to adjust to a harsh, new reality.

What was a single tremor in 2014 turned into an earthquake during the summer and fall of 2017. One after another, major entertainment and political figures were being accused by multiple women of sexual assault and harassment: Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., James Toback, Ben Affleck, Jeffrey Tambor, Al Franken.

As I was beginning this blog post, Charlie Rose was accused by eight women of sexual harassment. He has since been suspended by CBS. As I write this now, Pixar animator John Lasseter has just taken a six-month leave of absence from the company after acknowledging “missteps” in his behaviour with Pixar employees.

People are understandably outraged, not only by the abhorrent behaviour but also by the jarring pervasiveness of it. There is a collective desire to punish these perpetrators, and I share that feeling with you. However, what concerns me is not how we feel, but how we’ve reacted, and the consistency of our knee-jerk reactions:

These punitive measures may make us a sense that justice is being served, but they’re simply short-term, feel-good reactions. In my opinion, there is a much better way to handle these situations, and it begins with examining what we, as a society, want. Yes, we want them to pay for their transgressions, but there is a broader goal: we want them to stop abusing their power or position, to respect others, and to behave like decent human beings. The path to this goal begins with a look back at our childhood.

Childhood Lessons

When I was a little kid, my brother and I usually got along, but not always. When we were fighting or being antagonistic toward each other, my mother would walk into the room and say “I want you two to play nicely together!”. In hindsight, she was very wise. Instead of removing one of us from the room, she deliberately kept us together so that we would learn how to get along with each other. She didn’t adjust our environment because we weren’t well-behaved; we had to change our behaviour and adapt to our environment. It was a form of social Darwinism, and it worked… for a little while. Over time, my brother and I did learn to play nicely together.

I believe this parenting principle can also apply to adults. Of the people in the above list, let’s use Kevin Spacey as an example. After his reprehensible behaviour was publicized, Netflix, understandably, wanted to distance itself from him, and they cut ties with him. I get that. I’m sure that they see him as a toxic person, a general liability to their brand, and perhaps even to their bottom line. However, this is still a Lady Macbeth-esque knee-jerk reaction. Naturally, without their lead actor, the future of his television series, House of Cards, is up in the air.

I believe that there is a better approach to this situation, using a variation of my mother’s conflict resolution technique.

© Creative Commons Attribution, labelled for non-commercial re-use.

As yourself this: Will removing Kevin Spacey from his studio environment make him a better person? Rather than simply fire him (and possibly cancel House of Cards), I’d like to propose the following scenario:

Kevin Spacey’s current contract is torn up, and renegotiated, with the following additional provisions:

  • His annual salary will remain the same, but he will now receive only 50% of it.
  • The other 50% will be divided as follows:
    • 25% of his annual salary will be divided evenly among the co-workers he molested
    • The other 25% will be divided evenly among the rest of the employees. Not just the on-camera talent, but everyone working on the show.
  • He will apologize, in person and individually, to every colleague he harassed or assaulted.
  • He will treat everyone working on the show with the utmost respect and courtesy, at all time, both on and off the set.
  • Those colleagues whom he molested who no longer want to work with him will still be entitled to their share of the 25% portion of his salary, even if they find work elsewhere.
  • If he behaves inappropriately again, then he will be fired immediately and his character will be written out of the show.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the difference here is that his environment will not change; he will remain in it, learn to adapt to it, and learn to treat everyone around him with respect. This is actually a harsher punishment than simply taking away his show, because it makes Netflix the proverbial parent, who is saying “Listen, Spacey, you are not going to run away; we won’t allow it. You are going to stay here, and you are going to treat everyone with the utmost consideration.”

My proposal will give him the opportunity to start practising this less puerile behaviour, day after day, week after week, and month after month. He’ll still earn more than enough money to live, but the sudden reduction in pay will be a reminder that the pendulum still needs to swing the other way for a while before a balance can be restored. Over time, his new civilized comportment should become his new normal, just like it did for my brother and me. I, for one, have faith in Kevin Spacey; like a modern-day Ebenezer Scrooge, I don’t think he’s too old to turn over a new leaf. I think he can transform himself into a decent person, and that is, ultimately, our goal.

In fact, this scenario, with minor modifications, could also be adapted for Jeffrey Tambor and Charlie Rose.

Let’s not be reactionary and change the environment for celebrities who behave poorly. Keep them in the same environment, make sure they know that they’re being watched, and then hold them to a higher behavioural standard. They need to practice continual respectful interactions until it becomes second nature. My proposal gives them that opportunity.

As I turn on my television and continue to watch the proverbial dominoes fall, our collective responses seem dishearteningly similar. It’s tempting to step in when karma isn’t moving fast enough for us, but let’s not succumb to knee-jerk reactions. If we want to create a better society, we need to play the long game. What we see as just and immediate punishment is merely our attempt at changing the environment in response to their actions. Let’s take this opportunity to shape their behaviour and help them realize that they must adapt, and that the changes must come from within.



The Police Intro Montage

Stewart Copeland

Many songs by The Police begin with a short drum or cymbal riff, or even a single drum beat. How well do you know your Police music? Would you be able to identify a tune simply by hearing one of Stewart Copeland’s percussive intros? This montage is a little more challenging because not all of these samples are from their hits – some are the proverbial “deep cuts”.

This entire montage contains short percussion intros from Police songs. As usual, there are two versions of the montage. The easy version contains one second of silence between each sample, and the other more challenging version does not. How many songs you can identify?

The Police Intro Montage: 


The Police Intro Montage (with silence between the samples):



The Laugh Montage

Laughing Singers

Here’s another slightly quirky music montage for you: songs that contain laughter. The most famous example (non included in this montage) is Elvis Presley’s live performance of Are You Lonesome Tonight, in which he ad libs a line (“Do you gaze at your bald head, and wish you had hair?“), and then laughs so hard that he can barely continue singing. Other than that, laughter – especially isolated laughter – within songs not very common, which is why this took a while to compile.

This montage contains ten isolated laugh samples. The first samples are very easy, but they become progressive harder… As usual, there are two versions of the montage. The easy version contains one second of silence between each sample, and the other more challenging version does not. How many songs you can identify?

The Laugh Montage: 


The Laugh Montage (with silence between the samples):




The Cymbal Montage


The cymbal is a staple of the modern drum kit, and almost all pop and rock drummers use them liberally. However, relatively few songs include isolated cymbals (or related items, such as hi-hats, crotales or gongs). How distinctive is this sound? Would you be able to identify a song title and artist by listening to only a second or two of an isolated cymbal?

This montage contains ten cymbal snippets, and the songs are all from the 1970s and 1980s. As usual, there are two versions of the montage. The easy version contains one second of silence between each sample, and the other more challenging version does not. How many songs you can identify?

The Cymbal Montage: 


The Cymbal Montage (with silence between the samples):



Percussive Mimicry

From time to time, pop and rock bands need to include a specific, non-musical sound in their songs – generally something that will complement the lyrics. While they could simply ask their audio engineer to overlay a sound effect in the studio, many bands will often call upon their drummers to use their drum kit, or any other instruments as well as objects they may have – castanets, bells or even wooden blocks – in a creative way in order to mimic that sound.

Over the past few months, I’ve been listening for examples of this creative use of percussion instruments. The more I heard, the more impressed I became with versatility of the modern drummer. This is what I’ve compiled so far – I’ll be adding to this list as I discover more examples of percussive mimicry. If I’ve missed anything noteworthy, please let me know in the comments.


Band: Bananarama
Song: Shy Boy
Effect: Heartbeat
Lyrics: “I never missed a heartbeat [SFX], sitting in the back seat.”
MM:SS: 00:25

Shy Boy AC-2


Band: The Beatles
Song: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Effect: A hammer being struck on someone’s head.
Lyrics: “Bang [SFX] Bang [SFX] Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head”
MM:SS: 00:48
Comments: I couldn’t find the original Abbey Road version of this song on YouTube. This was the closest-sounding version I could find.



Band: The Beatles
Song: A Day In The Life
Effect: A car crash.
Lyrics: “He blew his mind out in a car [SFX], he didn’t notice that the lights had changed.”
MM:SS: 00:44
Comments: A drum fill mimics a car crash, or (as I interpret it) a car rolling over several times, before coming to a stop with its freshly-deceased occupant inside.



Band: Doug & the Slugs
Song: Too Bad
Effect: Gunshot.
Lyrics: “A 45… goodbye! [SFX] I used with no hesitation.”
MM:SS: 02:32
Comments: In the official video, Doug Bennett is despondent over a failed relationship and shoots himself in the head. As he crumples to the ground, his love interest merely rolls her eyes. Miraculously, Doug survives with just a little bit of stage blood on his forehead.

Too Bad AC-2


Band: Duran Duran
Song: Is There Something I Should Know?
Effect: Jungle drums.
Lyrics: “People stare and cross the road from me, and jungle drums [SFX] they all clear the way for me. Can you read my mind, can you see in the snow?”
MM:SS: 01:52
Comments: I wasn’t sure if I should even include this example, because it’s essentially a drum imitating another type of drum. Yes, this mimicry is a bit of a stretch…

Duran AC-2


Band: Huey Lewis & The News
Song: The Heart Of Rock & Roll
Effect: Heartbeat.
MM:SS: 00:02

Sports AC-2


Band: The Knack
Song: Your Number Or Your Name
Effect: Subway train wheels.
Lyrics: “Caught a glimpse in the subway, but you weren’t going my way. You were lost in the rumble of the train [SFX].”
MM:SS: 00:57

Knack AC-2


Band: Paper Lace
Song: The Night Chicago Died
Effect: Clock ticking.
Lyrics: “And there was no sound at all, but the clock up on the wall [SFX].”
MM:SS: 02:24

Paper Lace AC-2


Band: Rough Trade
Song: High School Confidential
Effect: High heels against the hard floor of a high school hallway.
Lyrics: “You can hear, her stilettos click [SFX]. I want her so much, I feel sick.”
MM:SS: 00:45

Rough Trade AC-2


Band: Styx
Song: Don’t Sit On the Plexiglass Toilet
Effect: The sharp staccato sound of a toilet seat smacking against the base of a toilet.
Lyrics: “A boy of five stands close to the toilet, holds the lid up with one hand. Won’t let go the lid for fear that, on his banana it will land [SFX].”
MM:SS: 00:21
Comments: This is a hidden track from their 1973 album, The Serpent Is Rising. It received some airplay during the 1980s, on the Dr. Demento Show.

Styx TSIR AC-2


Band: Tony Orlando & Dawn
Song: Knock Three Times
Effect: A hard object hitting a pipe – presumably the pipes beneath the kitchen sink.
Lyrics: “Oh my sweetness [SFX – foot stomping] means you’ll meet me in the hallway. Twice on the pipes [SFX] means you ain’t gonna show.”
MM:SS: 00:50

Tony Orlando AC-2


Artist: Trini Lopez
Song: If I Had A Hammer
Effect: Bell.
Lyrics: “If I had a bell [SFX], I’d ring it in the morning…”
MM:SS: 00:57

Trini Lopex AC-2



Unintended Lyrical Inspiration: Lenny Kravitz

This post is one in a sporadic series in which I analyze pop song lyrics from a my own unique perspective, and discover inspiration where the musician never intended any. Today I’m going to examine a song by Lenny Kravitz called Always On The Run.

This song – a collaboration between Lenny Kravitz and Saul Hudson (who wrote the music) – opens with a guitar riff that’s reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, followed by lyrics that that consist of well-intentioned maternal advice. Here is a line from the first verse (at 0:52 in the video) that in my opinion, rises above the rest: 

“My mama said, ‘You can be big or small.‘ “

If your reaction to this line is indifference, then I agree that it may not sound particularly meaningful or even important. The first few times that I heard this song, this admonition didn’t do anything for me either. 

So what are we supposed to get out of it? On the surface, this line, when spoken by a parent to a child or teenager, probably means “You can achieve whatever you like in life. You are limited only by your talent and ambition. However, you can also decide to do as little as possible and coast your entire life, without striving to develop your character or a solid work ethic. The choice is yours.”

I’d like to add an additional interpretation: “Once you decide to leave the nest, you are essentially on your own. If you lack ambition and decide to coast though life, no one (other than your immediate family) is going to care if you don’t accomplish anything.”

You’re probably thinking “Come on, that’s just common sense. Everyone knows that they have to make their own mark on the world, and no one is going to care if they are not reaching your potential.” That’s what I thought too, until a decade ago, when society started to change. This change was the emergence of the helicopter parent, and the deleterious effects that their over-nurturing was having on their children.

Garden Hose

When I was a child, we didn’t have helicopter parents, and in hindsight, my friends and I had a fair amount of freedom:

  • There were no cell phones, so we could be playing with the neighbour’s kids all day long, and our parents weren’t the least bit worried.

  • I rode my bicycle up and down my street, and on the road, since our street didn’t have any sidewalks.

  • Starting in Grade 5, I walked to school and back, by myself. This was a 20-25-minute walk, each way.

  • We played road hockey, and if a car was coming someone would simply yell “Car!” and we all stepped aside. I didn’t see this as inherently dangerous.

  • I remember a field trip in Grade 6 that involved orienteering. After a lesson on how to use a compass and read a map, we were sent into the woods (in small groups) to find various markers on trees, and then make our way back to the starting point.

Parents At Job Interviews

Today, many parents not only drive their teenagers to high school, they rarely let their kids out of their sight. While you could argue that this is merely an enhanced form of parental nurturing, I call it coddling, and it doesn’t end when the children grow up and become adults. Some parents are even accompanying their adult children to job interviews, which I think is just bizarre.

What emerges from this overbearing style of parenting, is a set of unrealistic expectations from others and from society. Witness bridezillas and promposals

Helicopter Parents, Pool

If the constant, smothering attention weren’t annoying enough, some helicopter parents believe that their child can do no wrong and often blame or even harass teachers because their child is performing poorly in class.

Imagine growing up surrounded by people who give you participation trophies so that you will never experience disappointment, and who bend over backwards to ensure that you never have to exert yourself. This, to me, is similar to growing up with Secret Service protection. You will eventually feel invincible and believe that no harm will come to you, no matter what decisions you make.

That’s why I believe that many of these kids will enter the workforce with a skewed sense of entitlement. Not all, obviously, but a greater percentage than the previous generation.

That’s why Lenny Kravitz’s song lyrics have acquired a renewed relevance. Once you strike out on your own, it will be up to you to make a name for yourself, which requires paying your dues and working harder than everyone you know. If you don’t succeed, no one will care.

While society owes you nothing, this doesn’t mean that people will be mean to you. In fact, people will likely be kind and sympathetic. For example, if you are at a fast food restaurant and the cashier is a man in his mid-30s or mid-40s, you obviously aren’t going to make fun of him. On the contrary, you may think:

  • He enjoys what he does for a living – so who are we to judge?
  • Maybe this is all he’s capable of doing. We mustn’t criticize.
  • Maybe he needs to work two jobs to support his family or for an unexpected expense.

However, you’re not going to wonder whether this middle-aged McDonald’s cashier is achieving his version of fulfillment or self-actualization in his life. That’s his problem.

Lenny Kravitz GH

“My mama said, ‘You can be big or small.‘ “

If you’re a young adult about to enter the workforce, memorize this line. Better yet, make it your mantra. I hope that you will become an ambitious and accomplished person, and that you’ll make your own positive mark on the world. On the other hand, if you decide to take the path of least resistance in life, no one will care. Your well-meaning helicopter parents created an artificial environment for you, which unfortunately bears no resemblance to the real world that you are about to enter. Lenny Kravitz may not have thought about it in this way, but he has just given you a valuable life lesson.