I opened my e-mail this morning and found a gem — the subject line of my daily message from The Art of Manliness was “Thomas Jefferson’s 10 Rules for Life.” The list comes from a letter to John Spear Smith in 1825.
Here’s what Jefferson called his “Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life”:
- Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
- Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
- Never spend your money before you have it.
- Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
- Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
- We never repent of having eaten too little.
- Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
- Don’t let the evils that have never happened cost you pain.
- Always take things by their smooth handle.
- When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one-hundred.
That’s a pretty perfect list right there. Jefferson had a little more to say, however, in a letter to granddaughter Cornelia Jefferson Randolph. We don’t know exactly when he penned that letter, which offered “a dozen Canons of conduct in life” and included these:
- take care of your cents: Dollars will take care of themselves!
- think as you please, & so let others, & you will have no disputes.
Maybe you’ve noticed that latter-day lists of “rules for living” (and the myriad memes they spawn) aren’t particularly useful. They tend to be soft and puffy, presuming to groom rather than instruct. I don’t know about you, but I was raised in a world of concrete, practical rules, principles that served me well in my youth and serve me still.
That’s what makes Thomas Jefferson’s words worth our time. These “canons,” recorded by the author of the Declaration of Independence, require no interpretation and don’t benefit from analysis — each and all can be applied directly to everyday life.
Teach your children Jefferson’s rules.
Deb walked up to the huge outcrop of ledge in the middle of our homesite. “Looks like we’ll have a rock feature in the basement.” she said, and she’s right — that chunk of rock essentially will be the back wall of our crawl space.
So yeah, we were on The Mountain today. We thought we might get to see some work get done on the leach field, but yesterday’s rain softened the ground and made further excavation pointless right now.
On this warm and cloudy day, then, the stars of the show were Smudge and mud. As you might suspect, the two combined to turn our happy Heeler into one genuine country mess.
Pictures tell the story of our Wednesday, which included bathing a Redneck Malinois puppy at the training facility on our way back to the campground.
These trips to The Mountain with Smudge accomplish something else important, namely giving Scout and Dipstick a well-deserved break from the puppy. That’s especially welcome for our gimpy girl Scout, who remains happy and gets around astonishingly well, considering.
Rain and storms will roll in tomorrow afternoon, and it looks like they’ll continue into Friday evening. We’ll stick and stay here in Harrison throughout, scraping the mud off our boots and waiting for the next dry (or drier) day on The Mountain.
That’s the plan, anyway.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.