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78 Paving Stones and Good Intentions


First Things First

  1. Make yourself useful.
  2. Leave every place you are a little better than you found it.
  3. Take small steps. Going the wrong way faster doesn't help.
  4. Cultivate your desire for the things you have. Develop an appetite, revel in anticipation, covet your partner.
  5. Miss your own company. Guard your time alone like a jealous lover.
  6. Bless the children born this year, as Buddhas-to-be, as emerging Christs.

Self-Awareness

  1. Never swallow a philosophy that's bigger than your head.
  2. Love isn't blind. Only love sees. To love you is to know you.
  3. Like Thich Nhat Hanh, make Not your middle name.
  4. We're all perfect instruments in God's motley orchestra. Play yourself.
  5. Reality exists: face it. The place beyond your worst nightmare might be better than you've dreamt.
  6. You are the missing puzzle piece. Find your shape between the things that engage you. Snap in. The world is waiting for you to complete it.

Marriage

  1. Remember that you're both doing the best you can.
  2. Accept your sacred mission – break the endless cycle of bickering and free all sentient beings from its grip.
  3. Estrangement is like snow falling between houses. At first, you're just too comfortable to go out and sweep. After awhile, it covers the door and you can't get it open again.
  4. When someone has seen you day in and day out, out of sorts and out of shape, snotty, smelly, cranky, disheveled, distempered, and distraught, yet still finds you attractive... celebrate!
  5. Don't expect someone to read your mind. It's really better they can't.
  6. Be a divine prostitute. Before a date, donate a chunk of change to charity. Then, think of yourself as a hooker and be worth it.

Body and Soul

  1. You're better than perfect. Perfect is boring.
  2. Imagine your day as a choreographed dance. Let the spinning hold you steady.
  3. Do one thing at a time, and nothing when possible. You're starved for attention. Give it to yourself.
  4. Make your clothing into a habit – wear the same thing five days in a row. Someone has to lower the standards.
  5. Picture your soul as a drop that holds the whole ocean. The ego is the skin that keeps you small. Trick the ego: evaporate!
  6. Create a time or a place for quiet, and a time or place for conversation. Without quiet, you have nothing to bring to the conversation.

Work

  1. Make a living, not a killing.
  2. What you do matters little. Why you do means everything.
  3. Be yourself when you grow up.
  4. Look for your job to give you a paycheck, not meaning. Meaning is what you do with your paycheck.
  5. Organizing and cleaning are holy activities. Grant yourself some indulgences.
  6. It's difficult to see that the emperor has no clothes when we're all employed as court tailors.


Community

  1. If you can't learn from someone, you're not qualified to teach them.
  2. Anger's a muscle that grows stronger when exercised. So is forgiveness.
  3. Do more than your share, but don't be a martyr.
  4. Give those with the answers important jobs, to keep them busy.
  5. Find out the name of every person who waits on you, cleans up after you... or serves you. Ask about his or her family.
  6. Start every conversation with a compliment. Follow with a question. And an opinion, if you must.

Kids

  1. They're all your children.
  2. Kids appreciate what they've earned, and respect those who respect themselves. Insist on reciprocity.
  3. If you water the shallow roots, the tap-root won't go deep. Limit media.
  4. We all start out egocentric. It takes learning to be Self-centered.
  5. Competition isn't healthy, even for the winner.
  6. At bedtime, answer four questions:
    1. What did someone do nice for you today?
    2. What did you do kind for someone else?
    3. What might you feel sorry for?
    4. Who would you like to forgive?

Food

  1. Once a day, become hungry. Stay with it awhile, in communion.
  2. Get friendly with farmers. Come the collapse of the empire, they'll be good people to know.
  3. When thanking God for your food, remember that God took the shape of the farmworker. Hope that the INS leaves God alone tonight.
  4. Don't let the serpent of bottled water tempt you to care less about free water.
  5. Ingest as little suffering as possible, from the lives of the animals to the treatment of the workers. What you eat is what you do.
  6. Run out of things, so nothing's taken for granted. Let the house get hungry and dance at your return from the grocery store.

Stuff

  1. To be unhappy with what you have is to add insult to injury – that they made it and you have it.
  2. Take care of your possessions as if they're borrowed. If you're not using something, find it a good home. Be radically non-wasteful – there are no disposable lives.
  3. Think of yourself as the press agent for the person who made your shirt.
  4. Always look a commercial gift horse in the mouth, to see how many Trojans they're slipping in.
  5. Count your clothes. Decrease a little each year. Keep the things no one else would wear and give the good ones away.
  6. Don't go crazy. Go sane by small degrees.

Money

  1. If money is exchange, what are we trading?
  2. In a future language, the words for to be rich and to give will be the same.
  3. The issue isn't how little the worker makes – it's how much is made at their expense.
  4. Money is a verb, not a noun. The action continues after it leaves your hand.
  5. Practice sly love. Offer a product or service for free if someone donates twice the value to a global charity.
  6. Question the existence of money.

Time

  1. Go slow enough for joy to sneak up on you.
  2. Take all the time in the world. Time is all that's yours for the taking.
  3. Let go of accomplishment and certainty. Embrace the tentative.
  4. If lives are equal, how can the time of one person be worth a fraction of another's?
  5. Contemplation is closing the door to be alone with a lover, who welcomes with open arms, savors with open lips, and hears with open mind. Enjoy.
  6. Eternity is in the I of the beholder.

World

  1. The reason to believe in miracles is not because we need God to change our circumstances, but because God needs us to change the world's.
  2. Untangle the knot until the thread comes to you. Cut there, and the rest will unravel by itself.
  3. Treat the disease and you cure the symptoms. Treat the symptoms and you mask the disease.
  4. Be wary of innocence, who sleeps around with blame.
  5. We, in the first world, are servants aspiring to be masters, instead of servants conspiring to end slavery.
  6. If at first you don't succeed, aim higher.

Truth

  1. Find the questions and the answers will be self-evident.
  2. The inverse of love is fear, not hate. Leave no one behind enemy lines, especially the enemy.
  3. Truth resonates, like the sympathetic vibration of a piano string. We're each already tuned to the truth.
  4. No one can lie to you except yourself.
  5. Create your own religion, so you won't have to borrow empty-handed.
  6. Waking in the night, put your worries in small white boats lit by votive candles. Set them free.