[Please forgive the audio quality and my mumble mouth. I didn't have my normal recording set-up, nor was I able to record in my regular spot...And I was trying not to wake the entire house.]
We're living in a world where being intentional seems to have taken a backseat to being defensive. So many of us have been forced into almost exclusively reactive positions. One way I've been able to crawl out of my reaction only state is by developing a personal code. Like always, I'm sharing my experience only. I'm not trying to establish my experience as some kind of objective truth. I used to be an inveterate liar. It was so much easier to create a false reality than to live in one where I felt ill-suited for. But when I started to explore my fear, hurt, and anger, the world opened up in all new ways. I don't think that is accurate. I opened up in all new ways to the word. I became more intentional with what I wanted, who I wanted to be with, and what I wanted to get and give. I developed a code.
Folks always think I'm being corny when I talk about developing a code. They claim that it is archaic, patriarchal, or "too white." I guess the idea of codes, virtue, and valor are almost always publicly connected to ideas of medieval knights. Granted, some of this is embedded in the idea of a code. But ideas/beliefs are meant to mature. Some of the things that have helped me to mature to the point that I was able to develop a code are listed here:
When I felt let down and failed by traditional religious belief systems, Chaos Magick has been an enormous help. Yes, it is steeped in European tradition, but it is designed for any and everyone to use. One of the most valuable things I was able to discover was the use of the following formula to approach the world: Will x Intent + Imagination = Result. Here is is a wonderful introduction by the writer Grant Morrison.
Another thing that has helped me navigate this world, to see it as mythic, grander than it is, is this book. I read it once a year. I cannot even describe to you how this book changed me. Most definitely a foundation stone of my best life.
But what the hell is a code? It is a set of beliefs you live by. They guide your actions and interaction. You've heard them called by many different names: a code of ethics, values, knightly virtues. How do you develop a code? Find out what you value and operationalize it. Here are a few of mine:
- Generosity: If I can help, I will.
- Embracing joy: I'm a pessimist. I need to do this or I will spiral into a deep depression. This is the most aspirational of my values.
- Integrity: If you tell me something in confidence, no one will ever know, I am a vault.
- Reliability: You can rely on me. If you need me, I'm there. No matter where "there" is.
- Boosting: If I believe in you, you can be sure that I will do everything in my power to make sure you're seen/heard/experienced in the way you want
- Fatherhood first: Unless I really need some time away or something is a very pressing concern, my kid comes first. No matter what.
- Being cordial: I say 'hello' to everyone. Don't care about your race, gender, sexuality, class/status; if our eyes meet, I'm smiling and saying hello. If you're right behind me, I'm holding the door open for you, If you acknowledge me at a corner, I'll let you turn first. My life has changed because someone took time out of their day to smile at me. I may one day talk about this experience.
This is my way, not the way. I hope this helps.
Here is the link to that New York Times (online edition) piece I mentioned. I did not title it.