Articles listing ten steps to anything you can imagine have blossomed on the blog and social media world. From ten steps to finding a lover to ten steps to ditching your lover, these articles by self-proclaimed experts abound. I tried to correlate the plethora of steps, see if I could reduce them into a common set of ten things. That just didn’t pan out, even using the massive super-computing power of my brain. What did become apparent is the truism that nothing can be contained in ten easy steps, and anyone who tries to tell you they can should probably come down out of their theoretical ivory towers and try that academic shit down here in the real world.
So first a recap of some common things I did find in these lists, and then on to the real list, the list of why we shouldn’t deconstruct the world into ten easy units of anything. Some of the things the lists did have in common:
a) be cool
b) be authentic and speak/live your authentic truth
c) the answer is inside yourself, not outside in some person or practice or belief or God
That said, let’s move on…ten reasons why you shouldn’t make lists of ten reasons:
1. It is an old trick, and no one can hope to compress the wisdom of life in ten simple rules or steps
This looks good on Elephant Journal articles, and fits with our American penchant for finding quicker, faster, simpler ways to do things. Look where that got us…
2. It distorts through over-simplification
If you find the Buddha, kill him. If something looks like it is too simple, too black and white, doubt it. Look for your own authentic truth within, not from some author’s list (not even mine).
3. It is an exercise of ego
These lists serve more to make the author look wise than to truly distill the panorama of human wisdom. They are exercises of the ego, which thinks that life can be reduced to lists it contrives. Silly ego.
4. Rather than leading to common perception of truth and right action, these lists more often serve to divide and polarize.
Every list instills division in people, who may have ten lists of their own, lists that don’t agree with our own. Comparing lists is like comparing anything…all it does is lead to dissatisfaction and suffering. Even Buddha knows that.
5. Lists are for the absent-minded and OC. Real people live life as life occurs, not try to force it to conform to rules
Do you really want to live life by a list? Do you really want to go through this marvelous exhibition clinging to a list, checking if you comply? Come on, you are better than that.
6. No author can know you or what is right for you.
Only you can know your own truth. You can know it the only way you possibly can, through your own experience, mindful observation, and reflection, not through my lists.
7. Lists of things are just lists of things. All meaning is imputed.
There it is. It is all things, all impermanent and illusory. That is not truth, just one conception of the truth.
8. Trying to encapsulate reality like this is really just trying to force my (or their) reality down your throat, in a neatly packaged little ‘pill.’
You don’t want to live on my regurgitated ideas. Live instead on your own fresh ideas (right or wrong). Try them out, and discover what your wisdom is.
9. Making lists simply tries to put the world and our actions in it into a nice, neat box. Life is not that way.
Life is too large and subjective, too random and unpredictable to fit into little boxes defined by our lists. If we try to live by static lists in a changing and fluid world, we risk becoming outmoded ideologues, fanatic fundamentalists, sycophants to others. No one wants that, especially you.
10. No box can contain you or your ideas or motivations. No box can contain your truth. No box is that big, and a box built by only ten questions is not nearly big enough.
You are too big and beautiful to be fit in any box, boxes of expectations or recommended actions. You are too big to limit yourself to ten of anything. life is counted in the millions, the zillions, not in primary numbers. Nothing in life is black and white, nothing is clear-cut enough to fit into a nice, neat list. Beware nice, neat lists, for they are like clean desks – they indicate a diseased mind.
You are vast….far too vast to be put in – or stay in – a box of any type.
Author’s Note: Of course, I peg the hypocrisy meter with this one…which is sort of the point of the article. No one can tell you with lists…yet I tried to use a list to tell you that lists are useless. LOL. Enjoy that natural dichotomy of life, the cognitive dissonance that rings in and behind our every thought, word, and deed. Learn from it.