I don’t like reading the itty-bitty fine print, reading instructions, or following the rules. Even as I kid I bunked the hierarchy by explaining to Father McNamara I didn’t need to bother with confession. If God was everywhere then surely I could just as easily confess sins directly from my head.
Never mind that I was making up transgressions to confess to the good Father, anyway. I mentioned this in my prayers after being dismissed from the confines of the confessional. I had to have some reason for reciting 10 Hail Marys’ and 15 Our Fathers.
You can imagine Father McNamara’s reaction and that of my parents at the refusal. My dad, being the respectful man he was, struck a deal with the Father, and later with me. I would continue with my Saturday confessional until I finished the classes and graduated with all the other dutiful little sons and daughters, but after, it was up to me to manage my wickedness how I saw fit. It was heck of responsibility for a kid.
I was old enough to realize I had gotten off easy. My dad had taught me the art of negotiation as well as in the subtly of compromise. But more important, was the notion of some keeping sort of rulebook and the necessity for regular introspection. Since being empowered to charter my destiny I have more or less adhered to a self-defined moral code, guidelines, if you will:
- Refrain from checking books out of the library if you have a forgetful predisposition.
- If forced to weave a colorful tale make sure to include snippets of fact. This way if questioned you can say, without fear of lightening striking you down, tis not a lie you are telling.
- Don’t lie to yourself, EVER.
- If unsure which piece of chocolate to select from a box of assorted chocolates, stick a sharp toothpick into the bottom for a sneak peek, but never take a bite and return the half eaten piece of chocolate to the box.
- Honesty is always the right course. Sanctioned exceptions:
- Weight on Driver’s License,
- The number of lovers you’ve had (debatable),
- Denying you still harbor feelings for your one great love—any past loves—to a current partner,
- If the love of your life ends your relationship, declare without a wobble or sob, you’re in blooming good condition.
Other situations will occasionally merit an infraction of fact, but will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
- Do not consume more than two glasses of alcohol—wine, spirits, or beer—in any professional sponsored event.
- Remember your dignity when dealing with the impossible, i.e., heartache, weighing in at the Doctor’s office, before behaving badly out of anger and hurt.
- Never have more than one double margarita when sitting across from someone you have a secret crush on.
- If the contents of a Tupperware container are not identifiable from the outside and you cannot recall cooking something the color of brown goo or green fuzz, then toss it.
- Be critical enough to know when it’s better to leave your ego at the door, but also savvy enough to realize when it’s necessary stand up for what matters.
- Accept responsibility for your actions and don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong.
- Don’t believe your mom when she tells you the green chili stew she is serving for dinner isn’t spicy.
- Declaring what you feel and think/believe does not always need to be heard by others. Typically it is subject to review on a case-by-case situation.
- If the cheese has blue and green veins running through it and you don’t remembering buying blue cheese, then don’t eat it.
- When in doubt, go for it; when you’re absolutely certain, double-check.
- Mind the Gap
- And borrowing a quote from Erich Segal’s, Love Story, “Love, means never having to say you’re sorry.”
It is by no means a comprehensive list. Guidelines come and go as I travel through life and it should come as no surprise I bend the rules—such as they are—quite a bit. And there have been occasions—more than I would admit—when I totally ignored the authored rules and went with my desire to live in the moment. That’s the point of living, yes?
What about you? How closely do you follow the rules?