John Howard is PM, Australia is preparing to host the Rugby World Cup and people nationwide tune into this new series called 'Australian Idol', where contestants dream of dominating the airwaves like Coldplay, Christina Aguilera and 50 Cent currently are.
As for me? My Highschool days are just months from coming to an end. Then one evening, at the 18th birthday party of a friend, I meet a girl. We dance together late into the night. Despite being a novice when it comes to romance (and a little bit drunk), I can tell she fancies me...
We catch up a week later- her, a couple of her friends and I. In the cinema we sit next to each other, I glance at the screen of her Nokia to see that she's saved my name with love-hearts on either side of it. There's no physical affection that night. Not only is there another girl I like, but I wouldn't have a clue how to go about getting a kiss even if I wanted it! As I said, I'm still a novice when it comes to this stuff...
Not that it seems to matter. A couple of days later via MSN Messenger (remember those days?) she asks if I'll go to her formal with her? I figure why not, and accept her invitation. A few days later I hit up a formal hire place and my parents wait around as I try on a few of different suits, before finding one I like and putting down a $50 deposit.
The formal is still a couple of weeks away- but then something happens...
This girl meets another guy who captures her attention and they start dating. I'm sidelined. My role as her formal date is relieved. Now, remember how I said she wasn't the girl I was interested in? So, getting sidelined didn't bother me too much. What annoyed me most was discovering that the $50 deposit I laid down was irredeemable. $50 was a night out with mates. $50 was still enough for a carton of domestic beer, with change left over for beef jerky. That's what I'd blown!
But in my eagerness to get my suit sorted, and in this girls' eagerness to pursue me, was the seeds of a lesson. If I'd been wiser or had somebody impart the wisdom on me at the time, it's a lesson I would've learned quickly, instead of having to receive it over and over again during the next decade before it finally sank in:
Nothing Of Real Value Comes Easily
There it is. Principle #7. It rounds out my list of principles I live by, because working away and putting in the hours and the mental/ physical effort for just a chance at glory can make short-cuts or express lanes look so tempting. But the path of less resistance is usually not a good path.
The girl who likes you straight away and goes after you, will probably soon like another guy straight away and be gone from your life as quickly as she arrived (took me a few times to learn this one, sorry to say!)
A new scheme promising to make you rich quick, will usually send you into the red with the inconvenient small print. That small print is why those people at the top are holidaying in Mauritius 6 months a year while you're stuck with a spare room, piled with boxes of product you're desperately trying to offload.
Living off fast-food and microwave meals is a fast-track to all sorts of health problems, compared to the one who takes time to prepare meals with fresh ingredients.
The young movie star or musician, blessed with talent and looks, who rockets to fame overnight is short-odds to become the next drug addled, sex-addicted, bankrupt shell of a person requiring a long journey of rehab to clean the mess up.
Lottery winners so many times become lottery losers with nothing to show for their "fortune".
Now sometimes we receive blessings that prove to be the gift that keeps on giving- the love of family, an unexpected offering, a treat we didn't work for- the memory of these can leave a glow long after the person or the experience has passed.
But the chances are that if it's something of real value that's going to stick around? Then it's going to be something requiring work, patience, effort, discovery, growth and time. It's the journey in and of itself that makes the reward so sweet when it comes.