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October 23, 2022

Simple Rules For Living That Came To Me At the Gym

A few years ago, while sweating it out at the gym, insight came to me, as it usually does when my body is occupied. Other thoughts have been added since then.

What if most, if not all the problems in the world could be solved with these simple ideas?

Part 1 If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. If you want to touch whether it is an object or living being, ask first. If the answer is yes, move forward. If the answer is no, go back to rule #1.

If the answer changes from yes to no, go back to rule# 1.

Part 2 No matter how angry or entitled you feel, you have no right to initiate violence toward another. Fighting back is for self defense only, to get away to safety, not to beat the crap out of someone. If you are a survivor of assault or abuse it doesn’t give you the right to assault or abuse another.

Part 3 The Earth is not your garbage can or ashtray.

Part 4 Children are not property. They have the right to safety and love and body sovereignty. Hitting teaches them fear and not respect and models behavior that most adults wouldn’t want them to exhibit out in the world.

Part 5 Lies will eventually out. Acts done in the dark will see the light of day. If what you are about to do, can’t be done in plain view, don’t do it.

Part 6 Karma usually comes to call. For some, it may seem like it is not soon enough, but eventually things balance themselves out.

Part 7 Treat each other the way you would want to be treated. Being flawed human beings may mean unintentionally causing pain, but don’t bring about intentional harm.

Part 8 Consider the wisdom a teen shared with me a few years ago, “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.”

Part 9 Consider the outcome of your actions, since everything has a ripple effect that will eventually return to the sender, for better or worse. Choose better.

Part 10 Love and respect yourself and it will be easier to love and respect the world.

When my son was an adolescent, I came up with Four House Rules that I thought would make living together easier. He didn’t always agree with me, but I agreed to follow them even if he didn’t.

  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you take it out, put it back.
  3. If you drop it, pick it up.
  4. If you make a mess, clean it up.

Many years later, I told a co-worker this story and she typed up and printed out the instructions and hung it up in our staff kitchen. It seemed to be affective.

In January of 1981, I went on an Outward Bound Course in the snow-covered mountains of New England. 10 days of camping, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, climbing and hiking, showerless, both exhausted and energized, I came home with a broken pinkie, frostbite on both hands, a sprained ankle and bronchitis (all healed, BTW) and a change of plans. I had chosen that particular location via Dartmouth College since I had wanted to move to Vermont  after college in New Jersey where I grew up. I never moved anywhere close to New England. I also came home with valuable lessons.

I think of it as ‘Make A Positive Change’ and it was offered by one of our instructors.

“If something isn’t the way you want it to be, make a positive change. If your socks are wet, change them. If you are cold, put on another layer of clothes. If you are hot, take off a layer. If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, rest. Don’t complain about it”. Simple as that.

Even though I am not in danger of losing toes at the moment, I still do my best to listen to my body and tend to its needs. Over the past 12 years, I had not. I didn’t listen when a severe case of shingles came to call in 2013, a heart attack in 2014, followed that same year by the first round of kidney stones, and then several others, since then, including pneumonia, COPD and recently kidney stone surgery.  Now, I am leaning on what I call my ‘walking buddy and dance partner,’ a hiking pole because of a recent back injury. In the midst, I do what I can to keep my chin up and my sights high.

As I was writing this, a beautiful and inspiring song came on the radio, called Turn Off The News (Build a Garden) by Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Lukas is the son of Willie and clearly, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with regard to his social sensibilities. I dare you not to smile or tear up.

What are your rules for life?

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