The whole list of Principles of Adult Behaviour
With the permission of
I didn’t think I would live to 30 either. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to find myself on the eve of my 30th birthday, weirdly alive. In this, I was quite out of step with most of my friends to that point, more than half of whom were already back in the sweet realm of infinity and love. Chickenshits. If you’re going to volunteer in the first place, go right into the Special Forces.
In any event, it occurred to me that, past 30, I could no longer defend my peccadillos on basis of youth. I would have to acquire some minimal sense of responsibility. While I didn’t want to be a grown-up, I wanted at least to act like one in the less toxic and stultifying sense of the term.
So, I sat down around 2 am on October 3, 1977 and I drew up this list of behavioral goals that I hoped might assist in this process. Now, thirty years later, I can claim some mixed success. Where I’ve failed, I’m still working on it. I give these to you so that you can provide me with encouragement in becoming the person I want to be. And maybe, though they are very personally targeted, they may even be of some little guidance to you.
Anyway, this is what I wrote that night:
PRINCIPLES OF ADULT BEHAVIOR
- Be patient. No matter what.
- 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.
- Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
- Expand your sense of the possible.
- Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
- Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
- Tolerate ambiguity.
- Laugh at yourself frequently.
- Concern yourself with what is right rather than whom is right.
- Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
- Give up blood sports.
- Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.
- Never lie to anyone for any reason.
- Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
- Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
- Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
- Praise at least as often as you disparage.
- Never let your errors pass without admission.
- Become less suspicious of joy.
- Understand humility. 21 Forgive.
- Foster dignity.
- Live memorably.
- Love yourself.
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 any one of them, bust me.
John Perry Barlow
October 3, 1977
Perry Barlow, obviously, turned 60 on Oct 4 this year…wonder what he thought of turning 60, if he could hardly visualize himself turning 30!