My Prime Directives

Several of the other Nano Poblano participants this month have posted entries which led me to respond with comments about the set of rules that I have taken to calling my Prime Directives. Yes, that’s a nod to Star Trek, because of course it is.

Obviously I have to obey certain rules and customs to get along in this world, like wearing clothing to the grocery store and so forth. “Thou shalt not give people involuntary haircuts.” Aside from the basics, I don’t have a lot of rules though.

Being an adult with no real requirements on my time besides work and basic existence means I can pretty much do my own thing, and that means I get to set my own rules for getting along in life.

That’s where my Prime Directives come in.

This may not be a complete list- sometimes I add or remove directives on the fly, as they occur to me. I might also have forgotten something as I write this up.

For this precise moment in time, at least, and in no particular order, this is my list of Prime Directives.

Rule the first: Be kind.

This means exactly what it says. I try to be kind to other people, and I hope very much that when most people think of me, they think of me as a kind person.

Sometimes I’m bad at this one. Very few people in this world have seen me truly angry, but those who have seen my anger know that I can be a spiteful, vindictive, cruel bastard. I have Bruce Banner’s problem. It’s always there, the rage, right under the surface. I try to negate that as much as possible by choosing to be kind whenever possible.

It seems like the thing to do.

Rule the second: Never eat anything bigger than your head.

This one is lifted from a 1976 B. Kliban book I read when I was a kid. When I was little, it was funny to me, but as I got older, I realized it’s actually really, really good advice. I have stomach issues, and eating too much is a trigger for Very Bad Things to happen to my digestion. Plus I could make some earnest noises here about moderation being good for you, I guess.

Rule the third: Share the music.

Music is life. Music is very often the one thing that truly saves what’s left of my sanity – if I don’t listen to it for too long, I get cranky. It calms me, reduces my anxiety, helps me concentrate, and elates me.

If I had to choose, right now, between a life without delicious food or a life without music, I would say “sign me up for the cream of wheat, and then let’s go to a concert.”

It’s precisely because I love music this much that I believe it’s important to share it. When I was in high school, I made mix tapes. Later in life, I made mix CDs. Even now, sometimes I’ll put together mixes to share with people- the method changes over time, but the goal is always the same: “Let me play this amazing song for you! I hope you love it as much as I do!”

Music is life. Sharing the music means sharing life. It’s that simple.

Rule the fourth: Embrace your whimsy.

I am a silly, silly man, and don’t you forget it.

My second favorite thing to do with other people, right after sharing music, is to make them laugh. I’ve said on numerous occasions that my resting state is whimsy, and I think that’s basically true. If I am drained of my other emotions, and free of anger or ennui or despair, then what remains is just pure unbridled whimsy.

Leaning into my own whimsy helps me keep things light. Embracing my inner Muppet keeps me balanced.

Rule the fifth: Never wait longer than 70 minutes for a theme park ride.

This one is just good common sense for logistical planning. No ride is worth standing in line for more than an hour and ten minutes when you’re surrounded by the entire rest of the theme park. Especially when the entire ride only lasts five or six minutes. Just go do something else instead of waiting in line. You’ll definitely have more fun that way.

A Questionable Rule the sixth: Nothing good happens after 2 AM.

While I never heard this one articulated until I was watching “How I Met Your Mother,” it’s an often true statement. I can think of many, many times that I’ve stayed up late on the off chance that something cool would happen, only to have nothing happen, or worse, to have bad things happen instead.

I marked this one as “questionable” because I can think of a handful of times that I’ve had really cool stuff happen well after 2 am. Only a handful, though. Most of the time, it’s just better to go to sleep.

Everyone says you should get enough sleep, right?

Rule the seventh: Family is important.

I am fortunate to have a fairly close-knit family. My siblings and I get along really well, despite all the times they’ve tried to kill me. This extends to more than just that first ring of family, too. Just last week, I had lunch with my cousin because she’s not far away and I enjoy her company. It’s important to me to try to nourish those relationships when I can. Speaking of which- Happy Birthday, Older Brother! (Even though I’m positive you’ll never see this blog post.)

Obviously this Directive doesn’t work for everyone- I have loads of friends who don’t speak to their birth family or have disowned parents or siblings over long and sustained pain. That’s why this isn’t just limited to families of blood. Families of choice are important too.

The people you choose to thread through your life are another kind of family. I have friends all over the world, and many of them are, in my estimation, a type of family. There are people in Germany who are dear to me, and people in Orlando, and people in Long Beach, or in New Orleans, or in South Florida.

Family is important, whether you grew up with them or added them on later in life.

Do you have any Prime Directives of your own?

42/52 (and 21 of 30!)


20 thoughts on “My Prime Directives

  1. Lorrie

    There’s one I unintentionally violate because I’ve made a career of helping others: When people need someone to listen to them, just LISTEN.

    Don’t offer advice, don’t try to solve their problems, don’t volunteer relatable scenarios.

    Sometimes people just need to vent or verbalize their situations. They often work their problems out on their own. Wait until they ask for more than a shoulder to lean on.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Be kind to others – it’s so true. Everybody is going through something or the other in life, so best we can do is to be kind to others. I agree with you on this

    Family is important – that’s one of the reasons I decided to come back to India. All my relatives are here

    Regarding music – once upon a time I was like you, saying music is everything and I couldn’t imagine how people could do without music. But now things have changed.

    Currently my thing is to take life as it comes, fake it till you make it, expect less from life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love it when you follow an interesting looking post elsewhere and find yourself in someone else’s corner of the web who has values you align with. I feel all tingly. I will go back and comment on Ra’s post but I had to comment here first, not least because of the Star Trek reference😊

      I really enjoyed reading your list. I too hope that when people think of me, they think of me as kind. Between both yourself and Ra you frame kindness in a way that bears responsibility not only towards others but also yourself.

      I used to think that kindness costs nothing and I would wring my hands at the people who actively *choose* to do the opposite. But we live in an unkind world, and if the past few years have taught me anything, it’s that my own kindness has limits even if I don’t recognise them. I’ve stretched myself thin so many times trying to be kind to others only to now realise the true cost. I don’t mean to sound cynical, not at all. I would humbly say that my default setting is putting others first (which I’m taking as a form of kindness here) but I’m slowly learning that being kind means leaving space for me too. I hope that makes sense.

      Can I just say I really enjoyed reading Directive 3 about music. I enjoy music but I’m not someone who could be described as having a passion for music. However the way you described your relationship with music has me nostalgic for when I used to make fake radio sessions on cassette tape with my little recorder and my dad’s LP player. This directive put a huge smile on my face.

      “The people you choose to thread through your life are another kind of family.”

      Lastly I will just say I wholeheartedly agree with this. Through circumstance – moving to the other end of the country, the busy work of life – I find myself not as close to my direct family as I would like. We’re still in touch but I feel a stronger bond with my wife and in-laws and my extended ‘family’ around the globe, many of whom I met thanks to Ra and the NanoPoblano community. I would never describe myself as a lonely person but, especially during lockdown, I have found myself a bit lost when friends or family haven’t always been available. I really value the relationships I’ve formed, whether in person or otherwise.

      I really enjoyed your list. Thanks for sharing❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello, Dan, I’m glad you enjoyed the list and thank you for stopping by.

        Regarding kindness- I have been in your shoes, putting other people first without taking care of myself. I talked about this specifically in my end-of-2018 post, with a bunch of related comments, but the one that is most relevant to what we’re talking about right now is, “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

        Like I said to Ra, there’s being kind and then there’s being a pushover. You can do one without the other but it’s not always easy to keep that separation. ( Btw, the rest of my thoughts on that are here: )


      1. Read again, and had me smiling and nodding along!

        Definitely live out the ‘be kind’ directive, which also has me smiling at almost everyone I pass in the street or the park – normally the park, more often. I do try to listen to my intuition in these situations, especially on the street, but I can’t seem to stop myself most of the time…it’s become too much of a habit. This year it’s one of those things that feels more important, the being kind, and the smiling at strangers.

        Music, yep – we have already established that one. Absolutely with you.

        The theme park queuing, such a good one! Honestly, all of them are brilliant directives.

        This year I’ve realised I can’t be too far from my sister, and I’ve kept this close whenever we’ve been preemptively looking online for our next place; rule 7 is definitely important. Also agree, our chosen family are important too. It really does feel like this year has helped us to hone in on the most important aspects of life, individually and collectively.

        Oh, and yep, yep, yep to rule 4! I don’t ever want to become too serious to laugh at life, myself or the silly antics of those I love. Or, in that matter, anyone – laughing is as important as smiling.

        Thank you for writing this. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Other than the fake it till you mention I echoed from Deepika’s comment, I feel like I have my own but struggle to name them. I guess “everything in moderation” would be one. My mom always used to say that, and I interpret it kind of through yoga as balance in all areas of life. Loved this post; made me think!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this! I think we’ve discussed this before, but my “Be kind” directive comes from a very similar place to yours. It’s just habit now, leading with kindness instead of tramping people with dino feet. 🙂 I should have read this before writing a post about butter, it’s a good idea, and I will steal it soon (with credit, of course) 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have most definitely talked about this before. A number of other posts this NanoPoblano season sparked my desire to write this up- especially “Writing For Murphy” with her gratitude posts.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: my prime directives – rarasaur

  6. I love this! Thank You 💜 Now I want to make a list too. If one spills from my brain onto my blog, I will absolutely credit you with this fun idea!
    And I love whimsy….which I call silly! I love weird and silly things and I love to laugh!
    Thanks again 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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