Variation on a post from 2009:
I have always been a fan of the top ten list. I suppose it started with Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 (Look it up, Gen Millen), one of the cleverest marketing devices the pre-digital music world ever came up with. After which I graduated to Letterman, who used (uses?) the top ten list as a comedic framing device, which I enjoyed even more. Kids, this was all before Amazon’s Listmania was even an executive web dream, even before the historic Wayne’s World usage of the meme (#3: Garth’s Mom.)
Of course, the top ten format is as old as the hills, actually, one specific hill called Sinai, where, tradition has it, God’s Top Ten was revealed amidst much noisy weather, on this, the Shavuot festival. Whether He intended it as marketing or humor will depend, I suppose, on your general outlook.
Why those ten? Here’s a pretty good analysis, although it only scratches the surface of the rabbinic literature which abounds on this question.
In any event, I have my own top ten, an ethical will of sorts in case I work, shop, garden, clean, and cook till I literally drop today, which seems like a distinct possibility. It’s not at all funny, and as far as I can tell, I’m not trying to market anything, although it’s hard to tell with me. It’s mostly just all serious and mom-ish.
Here’s what I would’ve handed down if it was my mountain, even though I suck at some of them some days:
1. Take responsibility: Be active in your life, work, and community. Don’t despair… Just do something about it. No hand wringing or arm-chairing.
2. Be spiritual in a way that speaks to you; Even if you are a devout Atheist, there has to be Something Larger than yourself and your own needs and urges that brings you meaning. (I think this was also, approximately, God’s #2.)
3. Make the best of things; Perspective, circumspection, ingenuity, friendship, positive assumptions, SENSE OF HUMOR, and hope beat victimhood and anger every time. It’s your choices, stupid.
4. Expect a lot of yourself and try not to expect too much of others (unless they are your kids in which case, expect the hell out of them, as per each child’s abilities.) No one owes you anything. (Except this one guy whose book I edited in 2005….never mind.)
5. Do not lie to yourself. This is the source of nearly all of the Western world’s ills, as far as I am concerned. Honesty with yourself makes 1 – 4 possible.
6. Do not blame. (See #1.) Rider to this clause, as the traits generally co-habit: Do not be overly sensitive when criticized. Try to use it, or forget it.
7. Do not be Wasteful. Water, talent, friendship, energy, emotions, time (especially other people’s!!). All of it: Conserve.
8. Do not confuse anxiety, narcissism, or control with any of the following: love, competency, self-confidence, friendship, friendliness, help, thoroughness, creativity, parenting.
9. Help the people who can not do 1-8. They may make you crazy or angry or sad, but those are the people who need your help, so when you can, you must.
10. Do not spend time or effort on jealousy and comparing yourself to others; it leads to the abominable sin of knocking others down to build yourself up. (Actually, I think this was also God’s #10.)
(Notable good ones that didn’t make it into my cannon: Take good care of yourself; Don’t pay too much attention to what others think; Be realistic; Think before you act, every time. I figured I’d let someone who actually practices those put them in their own top ten.)
I would love for you to write about YOUR top ten in the comments section. WWYHDTM? (What Would You Hand Down The Mountain?)
Marketing, comedic, serious, or otherwise. Will be reading after weekend (since God’s #4 prevents me from doing so beforehand.)
Hag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!
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