25 Adult Principles to Live By

I had the pleasure of meeting John Perry Barlow once, years ago at an Electronic Frontier Foundation event. The renowned poet, rancher, and Grateful Dead lyricist was an inspiration to many, and a wonderful example of how pursuing life with curiosity above all could lead to a remarkable life--and a bizarre resumé. I was so impressed with his thoughtfulness and candor, and was saddened to hear of his passing in February, right as I was boarding a plane at SFO to begin the next phase in New York. 

The move from SF to NYC has been a tough transition--it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the disconnection, the million tiny transitions, even the inconvenience of an empty apartment. But when Barlow's famed list of 25 Adult Principles to Live By resurfaced today in a feed, as I scowled at my laptop--procrastinating, trudging through the muck of insecurity and nitpicking that always seems to accompany launching a new website--I felt as though I'd been shaken awake.

One of these will resonate with you today. You'll revisit it a year from now, and another one altogether will leap out at you, like a memory brought to life by a familiar smell. Read, enjoy--soak it in!

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, never blame. Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Never let your errors pass without admission.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Forgive.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

Here’s what these principles meant to Barlow:

I don’t expect the perfect attainment of these principles. However, I post them as a standard for my conduct as an adult. Should any of my friends or colleagues catch me violating one of them, bust me.


Becca CampComment