Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Law According to ... Round One

You might have noticed a new person taking my comments section to a whole new level the last couple of days. Gary is a new reader by way of Shannon's blog. Since she hasn't been posting a whole heck of a lot lately, he's pestering me. Thanks, girlfriend. And, as I've learned, he will fit right in here. We'll call him the token writer dad.

His LAWS were the first to arrive in my in-box. Down below, you can read his list, which coming from a dude, turned out to be incredibly insightful, overflowing with heart and full of wisdom. There's a little humor tossed in for comedic effect as well.

Also up on Day One is Shelli of Mama of Letters, who wrote a lovely list that includes the simple things in life like learning to love music, reading and drinking wine. OK, I used a little poetic justice there and mixed some things together because those are a few of my favorite things. Read her list of 10 Rules to live by and tomorrow will be a little brighter for you.

And, Bella ... Ah, Bella ... she has outdone herself once again. She is easily climbing the great big blogging ladder with her purity and grace in writing. Her list is soulful and poetic, but you have to read it to see just how beautiful it is. Grab a cozy chair and sit back for this one, as always. Then again, most of you have already!

Now, for Gary's list. You can learn more about Gary's private self by visiting his MySpace page, where you would need to be accepted as a friend to view his blog and writing.

The dreaded list

Ah, ‘tis the season for… the list. The dreaded list. As perhaps the only “not a mama” in the group, I would be remiss not to let you ladies in on a little secret that you may or may not already be aware of: as a general rule, men hate lists. Personally, I am not of that male persuasion, however, and I find that lists get me quite nicely where I want to go in life, whether it be a Honey-do list, a Gary-do list, or even my soon to be infamous how to become dictator of the world, starting with Fiji list. I’m most fond of that one, though it seems to be the most difficult one to check anything off of!

Oh, it’s not a matter of being forgetful, mind you, though I have unfortunately been a victim of that circumstance at various points in my life, too, but give me a list, and I’m one happy camper. There is just something about being able to draw a line through what you have accomplished in a day and experiencing the satisfaction that comes with seeing such a visible progression. Perhaps that is why I chose to become a carpenter. In fact, I’m sure that it is.

So, what are those things I would recommend as vital gear on this journey we call life? Well, since you ask, I would recommend that a person:

Believe in God. Even if you don’t know which version of his story to subscribe to, believe in God, first and above all. If you do, one day, the rest will come to you. Too, I have personally always found suspect, and never fully been able to trust the intentions of, a human being that had no greater recourse to accountability than that which lay no further than the flesh of their own skin or the cleverness of their own intellect. Unsold? Then, consider Pascal’s wager. (This one should piss a few people off, huh? Woo-hoo, look at me! I’m pissing folks off everywhere I go! I must be the president).

Be willing to break the rules. If someone asks you for a list of ten things, give them twelve, pressed down and shaken together for good measure. And, though what follows should be a matter of course, I think, I find that it rarely is: if you’re going to break the rules, you really ought to first learn what they are to begin with. So, learn the rules. This is the surest-fire way to alleviate yourself of undo criticism, and perhaps the real heart of my advice.

Subscribe to the irony of life. This is the reason God gave it to us. Realize that no matter how much your rational mind suggests a thing ought to behave this way or that, know that, often, it won’t. But, by letting yourself go to the wonderment of this anomaly, you’ll not only find life to be more entertaining, you’ll find, at the end of it, you’ve lived longer and died with less stress as a result.

Read the book. One of the most powerful marketing ploys of our day, and one to which I am too often a sucker, is an attractive cover. On some you might have a picture of nothing but a woman’s legs, on another, some beau-hunking stud-muffin baring his chest as he swoops down and rescues some maiden or another, but eventually, the cover wears off. Then, what are you left holding? So, read the book.

Never lie to your spouse. Lie to your employer, lie to your friends, lie to the world, even, but never, ever, ever, lie to your spouse. You share a bed with this person, and they can kill you in your sleep.

Love. Wholeheartedly and without reservation, love. It is the investment in life that pays the greatest dividends. So, even if you’ve fallen off this horse a thousand times—and been kicked in the head on at least half of those—pick yourself up, get on the next one that comes along, and give everything you have to the effort. You will be crushed for doing so. You will be made a fool of. You will be terribly, dismally, irrevocably, horribly scarred for life—aw, aren’t I the hopeless romantic—but do it anyway. Sometimes, the ride will be quicker than others, sometimes you’ll be at the far side of the pasture before you hit the fence, but love anyway… until it sticks, because one day, it will. It always does. So, love. But… love yourself first, because you’ll never succeed with love of another human being until you do. Love.

Draw. Write. Paint. Whittle, even. But create something, even if your masterpiece is nothing more than your own children and the next burgeoning generation of young capitalists. Create something. This is the third highest endeavor of man, and one that will seldom leave you unrewarded.

Dream BIG. When you aim the arrows of your dreams at the moon, they may not reach it, but how much farther will they have traveled than if you had chosen a more terrestrial target than she. Want to write? Then write for a Pulitzer or the New York Times bestseller list. Want to build? Then build with your eyes set on subdivisions. You may not accomplish, either, but I bet you’ll go further than had you chosen to not to.

Confront your fears. Whatever they are, own them, because if you don’t, they will own you. Confront them, repeatedly, if necessary, until they have been over-come. Fear is the leading cause of failure in the United States, today, according to the Surgeon Corporal. So, own your fears, and remember that practice, practice, practice makes perfect.

Live unrepentantly. Make your share of mistakes, but learn from them when you do. To assist you, remember that everybody else is going to, too, and yours will rarely be the most egregious of embarrassments or errors. An unembarrassed life is an unexamined life. I have only ever heard of one man that was perfect, and his was still a life of embarrassment… over us.

Laugh. More importantly, still, learn to laugh at yourself—and often—because I promise you, the world is more than ready to laugh for you, and you will diffuse the power they have over you, if you’re the first to initiate the laughter. I spent the better part of my young adult life trying to be cool, and though it looked good, perhaps, I found it a most dissatisfying fit. Rather, letting go and learning to laugh at myself proved the infinitely more comfortable wear… and I don’t believe anyone that has worn both shoes will disagree with me.

Love. What? Have I already mentioned this one? Well, it bears repeating. Love. With all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might, love. Find a girl and be willing to make a fool of yourself over her. Love. Nothing you do will ever leave you as accomplished, and nothing you can do without it will ever leave you as fulfilled. Love.

These are the things in life that I struggle with most sometimes, but that are just as reciprocally the things I find that bring me the most success to me as a human being—the things that are worth the struggle that often comes from exacting them as a personal discipline. Who knows, give them a try. Maybe you will find them to be as cantankerous and fulfilling as I have. If not, at least I can laugh at you knowing you took anything I said to heart! So, feel free to enrich the life of your fellow man, you buggers! And a Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good life.

I've learned that my blog is showing an error at times so if you have experienced this please let me know because I do not have a clue as to what is happening.

Thank you for visiting today.

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village mama said...

My oh my Shawn, what a fabulous concept to invite people in on! Thank you for sharing your time to create this. Looking forward to commenting on everyone's blog to say thanks. Perhaps I'll send a list too...

Have a great day!

musemother said...

This is a great idea. Normally I am anti-laws, especially ones that sound like I have to or should do. But these are fun and witty and wise. I have my own list somewhere up on but I'll repost them, for today, just for you!
nice to meet more moms on blogs,
ps bella's blog is gorgeous! too

Shannon said...

Love these, all of them! This is harder than it seems.
oh and ps. You're welcome, what are friends

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I'm enjoying these lists. What a great topic!

To Gary on God: But I have an exceptionally clever intellect! ;) (That should go under laughter too.)

bella said...

Thanks again for starting us off Shawn. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to reading everyone's rules.
And to Gary, I particularly like the breaking the rules one, with the understanding that it is helpful to know the rules before bending/breaking them.

Not the Mama said...

I will be honest with you all: motherhood has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. There has been addiction, there has been the dream of national publication, there has been love. But motherhood has been the greatest challenge for me. Perhaps because I was born a boy.

As another mother of twins... well, of a daughter born with two heads and about that much attitude... every time I visit, I cannot help but marvel at how powerful the caption is to your daughters' photo. Seriously. "Born healthy..." I am just taken aback by how weighty that statement is, and how much I take for granted as the most obvious and simplest of things. I think I need to go back and amend all my own photos to read accordingly, as a display of my gratitude to the powers that be, because, it didn't have to be so.

I have a beautiful little girl that, albeit given how few the chances are that I am able to see her, is healthy and laudable and normal. It just didn't have to be that way. How powerful a caption.

To all those "listed" so far, bravo. I have not had a chance to read thoroughly or respond, but I will. A truly evocative enterprise Shawn has afoot here.

Mama Zen said...

Truly excellent!

Bastet said...

But I swear my hubby loves the Honey-do list! ;)

Shawn said...

Bastet: Don't mind Not the Mama ... we all know men can't be productive without a list. But, then again, neither can I. Da! loves lists. He even writes them on his hand sometimes.

Not the Mama: There are lots of stories of healthy multiples ... but those do not make the news. Still, we all want healthy, happy babies.

MPJ: Waiting on your list ... (nails drumming on desk)

Village Mama: I do hope you participate. We'd love to have ya!

Muse Mother: I'm anti-rules, too ... but only when told to do them. These are wonderful because we're telling ourselves what to do, and maybe taking an idea or two from another great person, too.

Shannon: Everything in life is hard. Following the rules is hard. Writing the rules is hard. You just have to do it. Maybe some wine would help.

Not the Mama said...

Shawn: That is the very statement that got Joan of Arc burned at the stake! ;-D Little known, but true story. Did you change the comment settings again? There's no linking anymore.

Mary P: I'm sorry I didn't see your post before. However, now that I have, I will have you know, I'm not on God. He always likes to be on top. ;-p

Bastet: I'm going to email him and tell him you said that.

Bella: I wish more people thought like us. And thanks mama zen, if you meant me.

Let me go now before that comment to Mary P gets me hit by lightning.