Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rules to Live By

I am nothing if not a strict adherent to the set of rules I have painstakingly established for myself throughout my life. I fully acknowledge they may not work for everyone, but they are my rules applicable only to myself.
First and foremost among these: Anything worth trying is only worth trying twice. If it does not work the way I want/fully expect it to by the second try, I give up. I know most people go along with the old "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" nonsense, but not I. This is a ridiculous premise fostered, I suspect, by cardiac physicians who make huge fortunes treating the resulting apoplexy induced by the frustration of trying and trying and trying and failing miserably every single time. I have learned  through long, hard experience that if something that has not worked by the second time I've tried it, it's not going to work. Ever. And by throwing my hands in the air and screaming "F**K IT" after my second attempt, I am spared the mounting frustration and fury of trying it a third and fourth and seventy-fifth time, each and every one of which I know to the depth of my being will turn out exactly the same way as the first. 

Secondly, time is an infinitely precious commodity not to be wasted by thinking before acting or speaking. I call this the "knee-jerk" response. There is little point in reading an entire e-mail, letter, or article if I disapprove of what’s in the first paragraph. That any question may very well be answered or the point addressed two paragraphs further on is beside the point. It should have been answered/addressed before it arose, and I am not responsible for the poor planning of others. React first and immediately is my motto. There is plenty of time for regret later.

Never bother trying to remember names, or dates, or numbers. They can always be gone back to and checked again if and as often as necessary--a point proven over and over and over again, sometimes up to ten times on one name or set of numbers. They're always there...somewhere. Going back time after time is much easier than going to the bother of remembering them.

Housecleaning is vastly overrated. Quentin Crisp's profound observation that dust never gets any thicker after three years is a good one to live by. Living alone is a plus in this regard. There is no point in washing dishes as long as there is still one clean plate, knife, fork, spoon, cup or glass remaining. When they've been used, then do all the dishes at once. Making the bed is totally pointless, unless you're expecting company or hoping the people from House Beautiful might stop by for a photo shoot.

Never pass up the opportunity for self-deprecation. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, with everyone just waiting to pounce on your every flaw and failing. By constantly running yourself down, you beat them to the punch and let them know you are perfectly well aware of what a loser you are.

Organization of any sort is a huge waste of time and never works. "A place for everything, and everything in its place" is laughably unrealistic. And just think of the hour upon hour of fun looking for car keys or glasses or billfolds or cell phones provides. And there is no need. When I set my glasses or keys down, I know exactly where they are and, sure enough, when I finally find them again, they are exactly where I left them.

Never make lists. Chances are excellent that if you do make one, you won't be able to find it when you want it, or you're going to leave several important things off. So why bother? Grocery shopping, for example, is much more fun when you go to the store specifically for a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, and a loaf of bread and end up coming home with a ton of things you hadn't intended to buy, but without the milk, eggs, and bread. This only provides you with the opportunity to return to the store soon and buy still more wondrous things you hadn't thought to put on your list.

There's that old saw that "Rules are made to be broken," but if you adhere strictly to those rules outlined above, I can guarantee you that the danger of breaking them will never be a problem.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

"There's that old saw that 'Rules are made to be broken,' but if you adhere strictly to those rules outlined above, I can guarantee you that the danger of breaking them will never be a problem."

Unless, of course, you've tried it twice and it still hasn't worked. Hence, Rule #1.

Katy said...

I like your list of rules. I have a lot of those same ones myself. They make life a little easier and more fun, especially #1.