Life’s Little Instruction Book

In 1991, H. Jackson Brown, Jr. published Life’s Little Instruction Book, a little book that reminds us what we should do and how we should act to live a happy and successful life. It is not a very big book, but it is chock full of wisdom, such as “Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 percent of all your happiness or misery.” The original book is 160 pages. One hundred sixty pages to give us instructions for life.

imageA couple of days ago we bought a new digital camcorder to replace our old one which still uses tapes. It is a tiny thing, weighing only ounces. I can fit it in the palm of my hand. We did not get the kind with all the bells and whistles because our main purpose for using it will be to record my husband and me talking about our life. These conversations will then be burned onto a disk and included with the annotated picture album I’m working on. So we bought the least expensive one we could find that had a good consumer rating.

When I got it home and took it out of the little box it came in, I found that it had only a very short “quick guide” to get me started. It suggested I download the full instruction book from the Samsung website. That full version is now on my iPad. All 113 pages of it. I am on page 30 now and am just learning how to insert the memory card. At this rate, I will finally be able to shoot some video two weeks from next Tuesday.

I’m actually afraid to even use this little camera. The first twenty pages are filled with warnings. I am particularly fearful of the icon to watch out for that means “there is a potential risk of death or serious injury.” There are so many functions and settings and don’t-do-thises that I’m wondering if I should increase my life insurance. Makes me miss my little Brownie camera.

I find it interesting that the instruction book for Life has only 47 more pages than the manual for this video camera. I’m not afraid of Life. I’m terrified of my camcorder.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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31 Responses to Life’s Little Instruction Book

  1. Ooh, I know that feeling! 🙂

  2. Ahhh…. You made me laugh out loud. Just push the on button and get going. You’ll get the hang of it. Isn’t that the way life is?

  3. I’m so impressed CE! How wonderful. And was so hoping to attend your wonderful writers’ conference next month, to no avail. Maybe next year!

    • Coming East says:

      Oh, Sally, I hope you really do come next hear. I want to invite my daughter to attend also. I’m going to offer to pay for her registration if she buys the airplane ticket. We would both love to meet you!

  4. Jiawei says:

    I don’t blame you, Susan. All those tech gadgets are very scary to me, too. My husband gave me one of his cameras, the more sophisticated and expensive one. I am scared to death whenever I take the memory card out. The instructions? I need a course to understand that! So you are great to have ploughed through 30 pages of it!

  5. pattisj says:

    You are such a daredevil! You’ll be using that camcorder in no time at all.

  6. Dianna says:

    Oh, just jump right in there – it’ll be fine! (Says the one who calls her son with every technological question….)

  7. This is so funny! My son in law photographer got a new camera with an instruction book about the same thickness as your camcorder… he just started to use it right away.. my daughter had a fit… shouldn’t he look at it at least? He said the first 50 pages tell me what not to do and what not to touch… a camera is a camera, I will figure it out… Love how those books can either intimidate us or give us a bravery that are both unwarrented. Love this post! DAF

  8. Oh gosh! So true! Those instruction guides intimidate the heck out of me. Hubby downloads them and reads them intently. Not me. I’d rather go with the flow….as long as there’s no “potential risk of death or serious injury.” 😉

  9. Amy says:

    So funny! I often search youtube.com to get instructions, like using my new camera.

  10. Ah, technology. I’m afraid of the television. Great post.

  11. dorannrule says:

    Hilarious! And so true. I dread upgrading any technology now in trying to learn all the mumbo jumbo instructions. I never quite succeed and am left with the basics – mainly “On” and “Off.” I have asked for a camera with a bigger zoom capability for my birthday but now terrified I will actually receive it. Wish your Instructions for Life book had something in it about staying serene in the face of change. Or does it?

  12. Why can’t all instruction manuals be as simple as IKEA assembly instructions? I STILL don’t know how to use 90% of the features on my (now-outdated) cell phone because the instruction book is was too ‘comprehensive’. Life WAS simpler 20 years ago!

    • Coming East says:

      I think part of the problem is that companies want to put every warning possible for every scenario so that if someone does something crazy like take a plugged iron into the bathtub with them, the company said, “I warned you not to do that!”

  13. I bought a new router for my computer last week. The only reason I am on line is because the old one (which doesn’t recognize it’s own password) is still connected ~ read that REconnected. It came with 1 5×8 card with 4 little pictures on how to hook it up. There was a separate booklet of “death warnings!” Following the pictures (I USED to think I was a visual learner) I got nothing… no connection to the internet and had to dig the pieces of the old one out of the trash and hook them up again. I am still plowing through the 53 pages of 4 pt type I downloaded (magnifying glass in hand) trying to figure out how to do what should be a very simple task properly. I hear your pain sister!!!

  14. Robin says:

    Very funny! My husband and I have such contrasting dynamics about instruction manuals: I never read them. He downloads the whole 500 page stack and reads the whole thing. I recently bought a bike for my son and the same thing: WARNING WARNING…scares the heck out of you.. I wrote about that a few weeks ago. Anyway, love your idea about documenting your stories—good luck toy you on that. And maybe you can just read that quick guide and start today?

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