Every new year, for many years, I set myself the task of writing a personal statement of belief. When I was younger, the statement ran for many pages, trying to cover every base, with no loose ends. It sounded like a Supreme Court brief, as if words could resolve all conflicts about the meaning of existence.
It’s grown shorter in recent years – sometimes cynical, sometimes comical and sometimes bland – but I keep working on it. The inspiration for berevity came to me at a petrol station. I managed to fill my car’s tank with super deluxe, high-octane go-juice. My old hoopy couldn’t handle it and got the willies – kept sputtering out at intersections and burping going down hill. I understood. My mind gets like that from time to time. Too much high-content information, and I get the existential willies. I keep sputtering out at intersections where life’s choices must be made and I either don’t know enough or know too much. The examined life is no picnic.
I realised then that I already know most of what’s necessary to live a meaningful life – that it isn’t all that complicated. I know it and I have known it for a long, long time. Living it – well, that’s another matter.
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarden. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpit at pre School.
These are the things I learned:-
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and cats and dogs and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work, government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Imagine if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.