At his time of passing Fletcher Reese Plambech left his writings in my care, boxes full of mostly unfinished stuff: stories, essays, blueprints, limericks, songs, sketches, and journal entries. Sadly, much of it makes no sense. In digging through, though, I occasionally find gems worth sharing. Even though FRP was reclusive, I believe he secretly longed for recognition, at least a nod that he was doing his best at trying to figure things out in a way that could benefit others. I think he would be happy for me to share this following list of universal truths, each written in a single sentence. I’ve taken the liberty to provide a bit of elaboration—based upon countless hours of discussion with the author—for each of his enumerated principles:
A Dozen Life-Governing Truths We’d Do Well to Acknowledge and Understand
- The various character flaws that all people have stem from basic selfishness.
RY: Not being selfish is a learned response. Little kids are a good example. They want stuff all the time. They pout and throw tantrums when they don’t get toys, dolls, and treats. They learn to manipulate adults to get what they want. We have to teach them to share. Many never learn.
- Pursuing life with love of others as your primary driving force is easier said than done.
RY: Well, obviously only a few people have actually done this with any consistency. That doesn’t stop zillions of folks from posting about LOVE on social media. These people are often the most hateful. Just saying. Trying to cultivate love in our hearts, though, is a worthwhile goal.
- Unintended consequences accompany every implemented change.
RY: Kudzu is a good example. Introduced to America from Japan in the 1930s and 40s, farmers were encouraged to plant this invasive species to combat soil erosion. Reducing erosion is a good thing, right? Sure, but good intentions usually produce mixed results. The kudzu experiment brings to mind an old saying about a road. Maybe we could grind up the vines and use them in asphalt.
- Discipline is required to reach any important goal.
RY: Laziness comes naturally and we tend to take the path of least resistance. I know this from experience. Any worthwhile thing I’ve ever achieved, though, required focused effort, sweat, and pain when I’d have rather been goofing off. I even had to make myself write this blog. Whether or not it’s worthwhile is debatable. Geez. But we’ve gotta do hard things. Otherwise, we’re just blobs.
- There are good people who have belief systems drastically different from yours.
RY: Sure, they’re probably going to hell, but it doesn’t do any good to beat them over the head with that. Instead, try to work with them and accomplish something good together. Let’s try to measure others by their works and give credit where it’s due.
- Evil exists.
RY: Hitler, Charles Manson, Hannibal Lecter, kudzu, ticks, mosquitoes, cancer, tomato hornworms, paper cuts. Examples too numerous to mention. We’ll never eradicate all the monsters, but we must kick ass whenever we can. Notice I named only a few humans. Rarely are people totally given to evil, but we’re all subject to evil influences.
- Objective truth exists but can be difficult to find.
RY: Remember the X-Files? Agents Scully and Mulder struggle in every episode with the Sisyphean nature of getting to the truth, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. It’s still out there; finding it, though, as our good agents demonstrate, can be more painful than keeping our heads buried.
- A little anxiety is your friend; too much, your enemy.
RY: We should consider and prepare for worst-case scenarios. Lack of preparation often leads to disastrous outcomes. Don’t rely on your ability to “wing it.” Study and practice a bit more than you think is necessary. Then rest, confident that you’re gonna kill it!
- Some traditions are worth upholding.
RY: Enjoying a meal with family, taking a kid fishing, car shows with hot dogs and hot rods, face-to-face conversation, carving the holiday bird, homecoming festivities, holidays that involve fireworks, respecting our elders, prayer, celebrating anniversaries and birthdays, and pride in one’s cultural heritage are on my list. What would you add?
- We are over-stimulated with “information” that is really ephemeral garbage.
RY: Not a new phenomenon. The history of our various media is replete with fillers, fluff, misleading ads, smear campaigns, and all manner of sensationalism. The internet, though, has amplified our natural tendencies toward hyperbole and outright lying for the sake of making a buck or casting an enemy in a bad light or promoting the latest “cause.” Marketers exploit our perverse curiosities in order to wave something in our face or to gain our personal info. I advocate consciously stepping away from the noise from time to time. I know FRP would agree because he often did.
- We need each other.
RY: I’m a lazy slob when I’m alone. If nobody cares about my housekeeping or hygiene, why should I?
- Actions speak louder than words.
RY: Focus your energies on worthwhile activities that speak for themselves. Washing your car is a good example. Don’t go around bragging about washing your car. Just drive a clean machine.
- The “baker’s dozen” as an applied concept brings blessings to the provider and the recipient.
RY: Always try to deliver more than what’s expected. That will set you apart from the crowd, most of whom do less. Aren’t you glad FRP included one extra? Strive for thirteen and it will become your lucky number!