What are your rules?

“We are all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”
— Eleventh Doctor

For an English class assignment, child #1 had to interview people about the rules they live by. I have to admit, I stalled on her interview request because I couldn’t think of any. This isn’t to say that I don’t have any guiding principles, but they certainly don’t qualify as oft repeated maxims, ready to be foisted upon unsuspecting passersby eagerly awaiting unsolicited advice.

However, after much consideration, the following is what came to mind:

  1. “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.” This simple bit of wisdom from the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium encapsulates much and serves as a reminder.
  2. Always do your best. The book “The Four Agreements” should be required reading for anyone who identifies as human. Always do your best isn’t about working hard or anything like that. It is about doing everything to the best of your ability at any given time so when you become your own judge, jury and executioner and berate yourself mercilessly, you have a defense that is beyond reproach: you did your best.
  3. No matter what happens, you have to sail from where you are. This bit of wisdom was a motto of a great sailor. In a regatta, perhaps as in life, it is a lot easier to get things wrong than get them right. Teamwork, sail trim, boat handling, weather strategy, race tactics all must be planned and executed perfectly. I have seen it done and it truly is a thing of beauty. However, more times than not, things don’t go as planned and you have time to ponder that as you swim back to your capsized boat — whether actual or metaphorical. But the race goes on. You may now be at the back of it, but it goes on. No matter what happens, you have to sail from where you are.
  4. Always time to do it twice, never time to do it right. This also comes from sailing, from renown sailor and boat builder Peter Alarie, and points out how often people eschew taking the time or spending the money to do something right, only to have to do it again later. Better to just do it right the first time.
  5. “The mark of a champion … is when you win, your competitors are happy that you won.” — Gary Jobson on sailor Buddy Melges. My grandmother alway pushed the concept of win-win situations, but this quote about Buddy Melges took it a step further for me. If you win, and in doing so lose the respect of colleagues, friends, teammates, competitors, it is a hollow victory.

Above all, remember that we are all just stories in the end, so make it a good one. What are your rules?

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