Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow died last night. I honestly didn’t know much about him, but reading the outpouring of eulogies across the web today I wish I had met the man. It must be the mark of a life well spent to be able to leave a momentary gaping hole of reverance in the chaos and cynicism that is the web.
Everyone has been sharing Barlow’s Principles of Adult Behavior, a list he created when he was 30:
- Be patient. No matter what.
- Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
- 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 can deliver yourself.
- Tolerate ambiguity.
- Laugh at yourself frequently.
- Concern yourself with what is right rather than who 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. Don’t risk it frivolously.
- Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
- 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.
- Admit your errors freely and soon.
- Become less suspicious of joy.
- Understand humility.
- Remember that love forgives everything.
- Foster dignity.
- Live memorably.
- Love yourself.
I love this list. Personally at 35, I most struggle with #19, #3, #24, and #25 (in that order). I was never into #11 or #15, so that’s a load off. Related to #2, I am a notorious “say how you really feel to someone’s face” person, but I’m beginning to learn that it’s less of a virtue than I once believed.