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What are your watchwords?
Here's a bit of exploration I've been doing in my own head, which I'll toss out as an exercise for those who want to play.

What are your key principles of life? We live in a giant web of memes -- lots of Big Ideas that influence us in many ways. I could probably come up with dozens that matter to my life and those around me, ranging from Joy to Law to Life to Spontaneity. But as an exercise, I decided to think about which ones are *most* important to me: the ones that seem to drive my life and decisions more than any others. (For this exercise, I suspect that the target number is 1-3.)

For me, I settled on three: Honesty, Caring and Balance. Each of those is pretty subtle, so let's unpack.

I started out with the first one as "Truth", but quickly decided that the connotations are wrong. For many people, Truth is a quest, and particularly a quest for an absolute. Truth is a pillar that often purports to be complete and irrefutable, and it defines some peoples' lives. But the simple fact is, I don't personally believe in that. The world is a messy place, and I find that the questions you choose to ask often define the Truth you wind up with.

Honesty has a different set of connotations. It's not about an external and absolute Truth -- it's about an internal one. It's about being honest with those around you, but even more it's about not kidding yourself. The mindset of Honesty is all about embracing the world as you find it, not chasing the world you wish for. It's absolutely at the heart of the Synchronicity Train, and has become central to my worldview. Wishing the world was something other than what it is tends to lead to misery (one of the basic principles of Buddhism). Taking it as it is and loving it for that, OTOH, seems to work astonishingly well, at least for me.

Similarly, the second started out as "Love", but that's too narrow and not quite right. I don't mean either romantic or sexual love here -- both are very important to me, but not quite central to who I am. I thought about the common Masonic tweak of "Charity", but that's not right either, at least as commonly used.

So it really comes out as Caring -- quite literally, giving a damn about the people around me. This is important as a conscious choice: not merely the instinctive hindbrain likes and dislikes, but trying to pay attention to them and *think* about them. And it partly means accepting that nobody, including those I love most deeply, is perfect -- that everyone is flawed in their own ways, and everyone deserves caring anyway.

And then there is Balance. This has always been my touchstone, since freshman year of college when someone (Janis?) assigned me the two of pentacles in a tarot reading and I took it in that somewhat idiosyncratic way. My central motto is, "Balance in all things, including Balance" -- that is, there are times when you have to take an off-balance stand, but choose those moments carefully. In general, I am always suspicious of extremes: anyone who wants me to accept a view of the world that is without nuance is someone who I am likely to distrust.

And it stands between the other two, since Honesty and Caring are always slightly in tension: it is altogether too easy to hurt those I care about with ill-chosen honesty. That doesn't mean that the honesty loses, though: rather, it means that the caring needs to nuance the honesty, remembering them and their feelings in how I present it.

How about you? What are your central principles? My suspicion is that most people, looking at themselves honestly, will come up with their own distinctive set...

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What a great question. I'm going to let the answers that came immediately to my mind percolate for a little while, as I suspect they will mutate as yours did. I hope to write about this in the next day or so.

My immediate response is "love." And since you've heard my talk, you can probably kind of guess where I'm getting that from.

When you're back from wherever you've been the last couple of days, this is likely to make for an interesting discussion.

An interesting post. Thought provoking. I need to think on it.

Honesty strikes a chord with me (not really a surprise), although I'm not sure that's 100% where I come from. Mine feels like it has more of a measurement component (not just what, but how much of that, but that could just be my job affecting me). I'm not sure what the others would be for me, but there would certainly be at least one more...

I've always had a 'Moderation in all things, including moderation' line. Interesting to see your near exact thing.

Intellect, Healing, and Awareness

Intellect - not specifically meaning intelligence, but using your brainm experiences, and situations to be the best that one can be. "Best" is a totally person-specific word. For Zac, it's the fastest, strongest, most focused Marine. For me, it's the most welcoming intellectual that can cross the boundaries between academia and 'real life' and be able to fit into both.

Healing - Healing others is at the very core of my personality. I have assisted total strangers, people who have been jerks to me, and friends whenever possible. In the end, I never feel good to see people in pain, helpless or crying - especially when I can do something about it. Now, healing myself - that's been a long tedious process of good friends who have been able to squeak past my shields and something that I work on daily.

Awareness - I almost went with your 'honesty' But, it's difference. I like to be aware of the truth, and be honest with myself about it. However, I do not always make a habit of being honest with other people about it. Some people don't want to look at the truth - so I bend it/find a silver lining as to not hurt people with it (see Healing). But, most of the time *I* know the truth. In the case of you and me, you have asked for honesty - and I give it, as we noticed this week, sometimes to the point of being difficult for me because I don't want it to be difficult for you. So, it's not that I *lie* it's that I try to be aware of how the information is going to perceived and received by the other person/people and cater to that.

An interesting and powerful idea ... I must think furiously about this!

Way too profound, and interesting, a question to answer immediately. (I seem to be in good company with that opinion). But the words that are floating around my consciousness at the moment include:

* Logic (or maybe Clarity, or maybe Objective Observation)
* Forthrightness (a bit different from Honesty)
* Open-mindedness (in the sense of "Prove Me Wrong": the "New Craft" discussion comes to mind as an example).

This may change upon more contemplation. We'll see.

And of course, none of this is an assertion that I practice what I preach, or that I achieve my goals in this area. But those are the things that are coming to mind right now.

Yes, it is a tasty question, isn't it?

One of mine is definitely in the Honesty/Logic/Objectivity center of gravity. I think the other two may be Endurance and Appetite. More soon.

Re: Yes, it is a tasty question, isn't it?

OK, a little more detail:

I'm very much on board with Justin's "Honesty" description, although I'd give it somewhat more of an external focus: both accepting the world as it is and striving to understand exactly *what* it is.

Endurance: This one is about being physically and mentally ready to deal with what life throws at you. Adapt, improvise, overcome. And, in the good times, expand your strengths and abilities.

Appetite: It's a big world, and I've only got another 40 or so years on it. I'm very fond of this quote from Tristram Shandy: "What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything, and who, having eyes to see what time and chance are perpetually holding out to him as he journeyeth on his way, misses nothing he can fairly lay his hands on.". I don't always live up to it, but I try.

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