When I was a little girl, I heard this preacher once, talking about the ten commandments. I didn’t understand much of what he was saying, but I was fascinated with the contradiction he presented: he was a dry man, like wood setting outside in the sun too long, warped and creased and bowed a little bit. Drawn up, I’d call it, settled into that shape with no intention of changing. But in the sermon he presented, he was going on and on about “thou shout” this and “thou shout” that, and I was confused by how dull and monotonous he was, droning without inflection, when his very sermon was all about shouting. And shouting sounded like a lot more fun to me than whatever it was he was plodding through. Shouting was living. It was exultation. And yes, sometimes it was anger. I was pretty disappointed later to discover that he wasn’t giving us permission to go around shouting about what we loved in the world, but was, instead, thou shalting us with rules. Rules are fine and necessary, but I still like my version better.
Thou shalt dance in the moonlight with someone you love. Of course, you’ll look silly. That’s the point.
Thou shalt listen to the old man’s stories. They are more than just history—they are a kindness you will one day hope to have.
Thou shalt tell your friends thank you, just for being there. They are a gift.
Thou shalt pay attention to which direction the hose is aimed before you turn on the water.
Thou shalt let the road rage idiot have the lane he wants. A car length is not a test of superiority. Nor is it something worth dying over.
Thou shalt take the time to build sand castles. Not everything has to go on your permanent record.
Thou shalt wear comfortable shoes. Two years from now, people will not remember what your wore. They will remember if you were grumpy, especially if they don’t know why.
Thou shalt pay attention when someone says they’re an asshole. They probably know what they’re talking about.
Thou shalt keep it fun—friendships, relationships. If you’re looking for ways to keep it fun, then you’re going to be paying attention to the other person and their needs, and you’re going to really see them.
Thou shalt not go down into the basement when the electricity is out, armed with a tube of lipstick and cleavage. This never ends well.
Thou shalt go fishing when you have the chance.
Thou shalt quit mocking your younger brother about that time you beat him up before you were twelve because one day he is going to be a fifth degree black belt and seriously, you do not want him to demonstrate that he is now able to break boards with your head.
Thou shalt remember that not everyone at the party (or conference) is an extrovert, and if they’re sitting there looking distant and unapproachable, it’s very possibly nerves. Go see. Ask them questions. Especially if you’re not comfortable at parties, either. [It is not like you have to marry them if you introduce yourself and find you don’t like them.]
Thou shalt eat all of the goldfish crackers, whenever the little victims present themselves. It is socially acceptable to hog them. [Hey. My rules. Get your own rules, if you don’t like mine.]
Thou shalt not eat all of the goldfish crackers and then ask the stupid question, “Do I look fat in this?”
Thou shalt be an advocate for children, wherever possible.
Thou shalt love. Not because you expect something back in return, because oftentimes people fail you. It is simply human nature. But you will love because the act of doing so, selflessly, helps us grow, helps us understand others when they’re hurt, and helps us heal.
There are so many more… but, now it’s your turn. Gimme your “thou shalts” for the day, serious or fun…