Reality #1. “There is never “only 1 thing you need to know,’” which explains why the order begins with prime reality #2. This reality can be discovered many times over in daily conversation, but the best distillation of it appears in the biblical book of Matthew. Allow me to set the scene. A religious law scholar asked Jesus the following question: “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind….” Now, we have no historical record of the speaking pattern of Jesus. However, in the construct of this passage, I sense a long dramatic pause occurred here. Jesus tilted his head to one side, appearing conflicted. He had been asked a direct question and had answered it. But something else was struggling to get out of his mouth. Everyone leaned forward with the eyebrows of anticipation raised. With a glancing look of resignation He hastily muttered “aaaaand the second is like it, ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”
Although Matthew does not record it, I believe Jesus may have face-palmed immediately afterward. The point is, if Jesus can’t condense it to one key takeaway, no one else stands a chance.
Reality #4. Human beings are terrible at predicting the future. From Martin Van Buren’s scathing condemnation of the railroad, “The Almighty never intended that man should travel at such breakneck speed (15 mph)” to General Sedgewick’s famous last words at the battle of Spotsylvania, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist--.” From Time Magazine’s 1974 Global Cooling to Al Gore’s 2005 Global Warming, combing the list can easily kill the productivity of an entire workday. However, killing an otherwise productive workday by aligning yourself to one of the fundamental realities of the world can hardly be described as counterproductive. So, no harm there.
Reality #10. “See things as they really are.” This thoroughly unoriginal reality has already been covered by everyone from the Bhudda to Oscar Wilde. Which brings me to Reality #10. “There is nothing new under the sun.” Of course I copied this from King Solomon. The point here is not the sayings themselves, but the number. 10. The first copycat number (getting to 9 and then reusing the 1 and 0 to start over). 10 is my least favorite number for this very reason. Who determined we had to start over at 10? Believe me, if I ran the world, the numbers ten and eleven would be single digit numbers of their own accord, and then we would start with twelve as the first compound number. This would make so much more sense. 12 is a genuinely interesting number. Consider its composition: 1 and 2. Forward progress, as opposed to 1 and 0, indicating either regression, constipation, or annihilation. Twelve is the first number that can be neatly halved, trisected, and quartered. With 12 you’ve got lines, triangles, and rectangles all rolled up into one. And don’t even get me started on the hexagon. What do you get with 10? Its half is 5, and 5 is the most uninteresting number ever. Trust me (and, well, you know, the calendar, the clock...), twelve is a much more real number than ten. The metric system is completely misaligned with reality. That’s why America never accepted it.
Reality #11. “The government loves acronyms.” More precisely, the government loves acronyms in legislation (the USA PATRIOT act being my favorite) and abbreviations which often become bastardized acronyms in common usage (POTUS, IRS, DOD, DOJ, DOE(1), DOE(2), DPCPSI (that’s the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives. Somebody uses it on a daily basis I'm certain).
Why include this as a core reality? Because if you understand that, to the government, acronym/abbreviation = action (or ACR/ABBR = ACT if you prefer); if you understand that to create a department = to solve a problem, then you already know everything worth knowing about the government.
Reality #3. “Human beings are living, breathing contradictions.” This can also be expressed, “every person is composed of a libertarian part, and an authoritarian part.” I mean core visceral philosophies here, not political parties or groups. Part of every person is “I’ll create my own life and you’ll create yours,” and part of every person is “There oughtta be a law against that.” Everyone gives reign to "live and let live" in some stuff and "this is for your OWN GOOD!" on other stuff. The strange and surprising combination of those parts within each person makes for quality entertainment at family get togethers, concerts, and political rallies.
Reality #5, and realities #7 - #9. Not everything has to be organized and enumerated.
Finally, reality #12.
“I prefer living life without illusions. Reality surpasses everything, peaceful over time.”
I’m a sucker for the #mylifeinsixwords school of Twitter philosophy. I usually enter something akin to one of the above. I insert it here because these 12 words can be taken as a whole, or divided neatly into halves, thirds, or quarters, and still make quasi-sense, therefore meriting a place in the seat of numerical perfection.
Did you think I was kidding about that?