lundi, décembre 19, 2011

A woman of inconvenient principles

Yes, I have principles.

They just lurk way outside the box, like the rest of me.

They also tend to crop up at strange times.

Just because I am congenitally not quick to judge (I believe there's something vaguely biblical about this), does not mean that I am without any internal monitor.

Let me amend that statement.

I judge the U.S. Congress, the poor quality of Hershey's chocolate, and the length of my daughter's skirts all the time.

But people's lifestyle choices? Not so fast.

In part, this is due to my abiding curiosity as to why people chose to live the way they do.

I figure that I darn well better understand it, at least from the outside, before I say much about it. And, as a writer, I'd rather describe it from the inside out, so that you have enough information to make your own judgments.

But put me at a party with an orthodox Democrat, and I'll become the conservative moralist -- in part, because I am the spawn of generations of moralists. A devout conservative?

Given the chance, I'll start ranting about the "too big to fail" banks and climate change (an issue on which I am irritatingly consistent).

So what are my principles, such as they are? A few are simple, and this list is by no means exhaustive. I suspect that you share most of them.

Be kind. There's an awful lot of meanness out there.

Be generous.

Think before you speak.

Turn love into a verb of action.

Use the phone and in-person meet-ups in addition to email, texting, and other toys.As I watch my daughter online, I worry that she won't have the communication skills to handle "real" life.

Compromise when possible.

Politicians in Washington have made a mockery of the idea, and yet it is essential if we are going to thrive as a society.

Extend your hand. Apologize first.

Be gracious, whether the cards fall your way or they do not.

But what happens when you have gone as far as you can go -- and the distance between you and a friend, neighbor or spouse still yawns?

Don't sell yourself out.

I am determined that no one mistake my attempts to be kind as weakness of character.

As I've noted before, as we grow older, we become more and more the people we are going to be the rest of our lives. Though I want to stay nimble, I have no desire to become a cloak spread across the mud for someone to step on.

Which is why I seem to end up having the "no friends with benefits" conversation so often. If a guy really likes me, he's going to hang in there (or may never bring it up initially to begin with). If he wants something more superficial, he'll move on to seek lower-hanging fruit.

If a coworker, a friend or a lover can't handle the authentic person you are, you both have something to work on. Sometimes you have no choice.

Often, the choice is yours.

Because I'm such an inquisitive (nosy?) person, I often come crashing into my principles, rather than easing up to them.

You may be less curious -- and more sane. It's simpler that way.

Sometimes the box isn't meant to confine you, but to protect.

I just don't know what I'd learn about human nature if I stayed there.

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