Friday, October 7, 2011

Behave, or I'll Slap You.

Back in 2005 I bought a really funny book:

You can order it here
Here are the first two pages:

The second question on the next page asks if YOU are glad that you're here, and the author asserts that if you can answer yes to both questions then you must have been behaving and following some centuries old advice about how to behave.

Now, the rules of behaving aren't what I care about right now. If you need them, go buy the book, or borrow mine, whatever.

What's important to answer is the initial set of questions. Are people glad you're here? Are you glad to be here? They seem like simple questions, but they're not. They demand honesty and integrity in their answers, and those two traits are hard to find. (Especially when we're talking to ourselves.)

"Are most of the people I know glad I that am here?"

I guess, for me, the answer to that question is yes. I make a lot of people laugh and I don't think it's bragging to say that. If I was good at origami, or playing the violin, it wouldn't seem like bragging to say it. Of course those things take practice and maybe people don't think it takes practice to make people laugh. Sometimes it doesn't. I admit that for the most part a quick wit and lack of internal censor are the only two things I need to be laughable, but sometimes I DO have to think and practice, make mistakes and say the wrong things, sound lame and learn from my gaffs. So what I don't have a degree in funny? If the people around me feel happy to see me, or have fond thoughts when I'm not around, isn't that as worthy as making them a paper crane?

"Am I glad I'm here?"

I answer this in a resounding yes. Again, there isn't anything overwhelmingly spectacular in my life. I don't vacation in remote and luxurious places. My car is 10 years old and smells like cheese. I haven't ever been on a yacht or other large sea vessel. There aren't any shoes with red soles in my closet and I can't afford Starbucks every day. But I have two sons who are phenomenal examples of humanity, a husband I adore, a new part-time job that's going to be fun and educational, and a blog that 4 people read. (Or 120 on a random Monday in Israel, if my statistics are to be believed.)

What's not to be happy about?! And if I didn't have those things then I have these: friends who care about me, who let me not have an internal censor and laugh at things I say, books from a free and public library, clean drinking water whenever I want it, an extended family who supports me, and a car that runs even though it smells like cheese.

So, according to the book, this means I have learned to behave...and I don't know about all that, but I guess I'm doing something right. 

Here's how the book ends (mostly):

There are a few other pages..go get the book.
So it's a funny little book that gives you a childlike treatise on how to behave and why...and what it boils down to is compassion, right? Being the type of person who makes others happy, being the type of person who is happy, and remembering that just because it's not your way doesn't make it wrong. 

What does this mean to you? 

Do you know how to behave? Like I said before, I don't know if I'm "behaving"...but hopefully you're glad I'm here, and I'm glad you're here, and we're all glad we're all here, and now we know how to make the world a better place for all of us.

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