Sunday, December 2, 2007

10 Rules

I found this on Living in Syn, and I think it's important and wise. It's a speech Milton Glaser gave in 2001, called "Ten Things I Have Learned." Give it a read.

Here are a few extras--some things I've learned along the way:

1. Manners are more important than love
This seems strange, right? Because what's more important than love? Except, how many people can you really love in your lifetime? I mean, really? And what about all those other people? Manners fell into disrepute back in the 60s, when I was a child, but they're important. They're what makes a civil society possible. Not laws. Not love. Just basic manners.

2. There's nothing wrong with being a grown-up
I spent most of my 20s and a good portion of my 30s working as a playwright and theatre director, which is not quite as selfish and self-involved as being, say, an actor--but it's close. There were fulfilling moments and frustrating moments. Strangely, the most fulfilling part of that life, for me, was building and holding together (for a brief time) a company of talented, creative people. Not doing my own writing work or seeing that work staged, but seeing a group come together, work hard, and do great things. I had the same experience at my job, before I moved out here to Arizona, to work solo. Building and managing a creative team--trying to take care of them, motivate them, protect them in the face of challenging work and difficult deadlines--when it went well, it felt great. And now I realize that all of this was just the forerunner to building a family, which has proved to be the most fulfilling and satisfying time of my life.

I know our entire economy is built upon amusing 16-year olds, and that in pursuit of that goal, it seems to be in our country's best interest to push children into being 16-year olds sooner...and to treat adults of any age as 16-year olds for as long as possible. But the world needs grown-ups. Badly.

3. Man plans; God laughs
Or, you have no idea where you're really going, so go ahead and make your plans, but be ready to adjust and improvise when your plans blow up in your face. Because sooner or later, they will. Deal with it.

In fact, do more than deal with it. Revel in it. Learn from it. Because every disaster can be an opportunity. I learned that from my parents--from watching their lives. Every time life threw them a curve ball, they managed to learn from it and grow from it, and change in ways that made them (eventually, and not without some pain) happier and stronger than they ever would have been had life not interfered with their original plans. Life is smarter than we are.

4. Love is a verb
This was a big one for me, and it took me a long time to learn. Love as a feeling is nice, but tricky and transient--and ultimately not so important, in the grand scheme of things. In the end, it doesn't matter what you feel; what matters is what you do. Love is what you do...or what you don't do. Wife-beaters claim to feel love for their wives. The religious right claims to feel love for "sinners," though they treat them like garbage. The left claims to love a wide array of interest groups--and often show their love by giving people new and less offensive names. But if I walk by a "homeless person," is it really morally superior to walking by a "bum"?

I've had the feeling of love for lots of people over the years, but if I look back closely and without rose-colored glasses, how many people have I actually loved--loved-as-verb--loved where you can tell it's love not because of nice words or nice feelings, but because of the things you do? I'd have to say it's a very small handful.

That's me. What would you add?

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