A Machiavellian Proverb
A good proverb focuses your thinking about a subject. “A stitch in time saves nine.” tells you that tending to a problem early saves you time in the long run. Do not procrastinate. Do not avoid the problem. Do not let the problem grow out of control. This little proverb (“a stitch in time ...”) focuses your mind on the essence of a problem, whether it has to do with a split seam in your underwear, a competitor in the market, or nuclear proliferation. It is a template that can be fit to millions of situations.
Live long, and prosper is a wonderful proverb because it focuses your mind on all of the high-level priorities of life. There are only two.
Priority #1: Stay alive and healthy. Live as long as possible. Avoid situations and conditions in which your life might be shortened. Prevent or cure your illnesses. Avoid unnecessary danger, unnecessary violence, and unnecessary risk. Get a regular medical checkup. Take all prudent and reasonable precautions so that you do not die earlier than your body would otherwise last. Eat right. Exercise. Don’t use tobacco. Wear your seat belt.
They say that the good die young, but they are idiots. The unlucky and the stupid die young. Take the precautions that will protect you from bad Luck as much as is possible. Use your intelligence to prevent you from doing stupid things. Use mental discipline to prevent your emotions from overriding your good sense. You will die soon enough, and when your time comes you will think it is too soon even if you are a hundred. Live long.
Priority #2: Flourish. Thrive. Everything in your life should be excellent. Your health, income, work, family life, friendships, love relationships, sex life, leisure time, emotional state, psychological condition, mood, house, spiritual life, and all other aspects of your life should be ideal. The purpose of your life is for you to enjoy your days as much as possible. This does not mean that your house has to be a mansion, your wristwatch has to be a Rolex, and your husband has to be a millionaire CEO whose hobby is giving massages. It means that your life should be as good as you can possibly make it. A quiet country life can be profoundly satisfying. Having a good job, a happy family, interesting hobbies or pastimes, and a decent car for road trips can be a rich and rewarding life. Teaching fourth grade reading can be a very rewarding career. It all depends on what kind of person you are. Why should you settle for less happiness than you can achieve? Why should you do things that do not please you because you think others expect it of you? Why should you spend years feeling disappointment because one of your goals has become unachievable when you can simply choose another satisfying goal that is achievable. Are you planning to do a better job of living in your second lifetime? Unfortunately, you only get one ride on this carousel.
If you can’t make everything in your life excellent, then make as many things as possible as good as possible. Things don’t always go your way. Bad luck sometimes blocks you. Smarter or stronger people sometimes take for themselves the things you want for yourself. Sometimes the other girl gets the guy. Sometimes the other actress gets the part because she has bigger boobs than you. Unpreventable illness or tragedy can change your life for no good reason. Your employer might go bankrupt. Your home might be washed away in a flood. A drunk uninsured impoverished driver might slam his Gremlin into your car, putting you in the hospital for six months.
Sometimes a seed falls into a crack in the rocks, and it has no choice but to accept the bad luck that dropped it there. It has no choice but to be the healthiest plant it can be - given the amount of soil and moisture it has to work with. Make your life the best it can be given the circumstances you have to deal with. Why do otherwise? Is it better to give up and feel sorry for yourself? Thrive. Flourish. Blossom. Grow. Encourage those in your domain to do the same. Prosper.
“Live long and prosper,” Mister Spock, that most rational of beings, advises us. Can you think of a better course of action?
How does Spock’s advice relate to a chapter on the security of your domain? It focuses your thinking on the most important things to protect. Any threat to your ability to live long and happily should set off an alarm bell in your mind. Lesser threats are merely indignities that you can safely ignore.
Live Long, and Prosper.