I have always been a fan of the top ten list. I suppose it started with Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 (Yes. I was around and not in nursery school at the time. OK?), the cleverest marketing device the pre-digital music world ever came up with. After which I graduated to Letterman, who used (uses?) the top ten list as a cool comedic framing device, which I enjoyed even more. Kids, this was all before Amazon’s Listmania was even an executive web dream.
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 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 on the internet. It’s just all serious and mom-ish. It happens.
Here’s what I would’ve handed down if it was my mountain:
1. Take responsibility: Be active in your life and community. Make lots of friends by giving. (Caveat: Share responsibility, know how to take; monopolizing and refusing help puts you and others in impossible positions.) (I suck at the Caveat.)
2. Be spiritual in a way that speaks to you; Even if you are an 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….never mind.)
5. Help the people who can not do 1-4. They will make you angry and crazy and you may need to unplug from some of them. But those are the people who need your help, so when you can, you must.
6. Do not lie to yourself. This is the source of all of the world’s ills, as far as I am concerned. Honesty with yourself makes 1 – 5 possible.
7. Do not blame. (See #’s 1,3 and 4. But it bears repeating.) Rider to this clause, as the traits generally co-habit: Do not be overly sensitive when criticized. Try to use it, or forget it.
8. Do not be Wasteful. Water, talent, friendship, energy, time, words. All of it: Conserve. (I sometimes suck at this. I wonder if God ever sucked at any of His commandments.)
9. Do not confuse anxiety and control with any of the following: love, competency, self-confidence, help, thoroughness, creativity, parenting. (I sometimes suck at this, too.)
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 care of yourself; Don’t pay attention to what others think; Be realistic; Think before you act. I figured I’d let someone who actually practices those put them in their own top ten.)
Now it’s time to bake and cook a whole lot b/c I hyper-excel at #4.
While I sweat in the kitchen, 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, I also do. It happens.)
Hag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!
Get these posts via RSS or email.
Just posts, nothing spammy!