Matt's Maxims are a small series of rules I try to live by, or at least suggestions I try to keep in mind. I don't mean to suggest that they are right for everybody, and I'm not even saying that I'm always successful at following them. I just think they're interesting.
I've listed them here in no particular order, other than that the first one is, in fact, the first one. It's the maxim that spawned Matt's Maxims.
- When you see a green man, cross the road. This goes back to the year I spent in London, where crossing the street was a daily test of courage and willpower unlike any other I've undergone. I quickly realized that in order to survive, I had to look right, look left, look right again, look straight, and run like hell, because there was sure to be a car coming from some direction I hadn't even considered. Now, I like to think of myself as a champion jaywalker, but in London, I became acutely aware that jaywalking is a privelege, not a right. If the little green man in the walk sign told me that it was safe to cross the street, I learned that I should cross, quickly, regardless of whether or not I had planned to cross at that particular moment. Who could tell when I'd have the opportunity again? Read into this what you will, but I decided it was a sign that I should take the opportunities that are given me, and to run with them.
- Try not to do anything that pisses you off. I'm not sure what the correct grammar is here, but the gist is clear. How can you complain about other people when you do the same things they do? This is the maxim I am most unsuccessful at following, but I do believe it's a good thing to try.
- You can't put yourself in anybody else's shoes. This is hardly an original idea, but it's one that I firmly believe. I don't know what other people have experienced. I don't know what other people have learned. And I certainly don't know what it's like to think like someone else. I like to think that this maxim inspires patience.
- Everybody has bad days. This maxim, as originally phrased, was a much harsher indictment of personalities, but I've since toned it down for a G-rated audience. Basically, I believe that everybody has the power to be both a good person, but even the best person needs down time. If you truly care about someone, you can stand by them through the thick and the thin, or the crunchy and the smooth if that's what you want to call it.
- Set reasonable goals. It's a lot harder to be disappointed if you know what you're capable of and plan accordingly. Jennifer violated this maxim recently after a visit to the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. As we left she decided that her goal was to be such a regular visitor at the Fairmont that the staff would know her by name. Actually, this may be a reasonable goal. We'll keep you updated.