Every once in awhile a book comes along that really changes my life. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it really changes things. The last book that did this was The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz. It's based on Toltec knowledge passed down from generation to generation. It was published in 1997, but I don't believe I came across it until a few years later. I still stumble from time to time in my practice of these tenets, but I continue to hold them up as lights on my path. When I practice them consistently, life becomes a much more loving place to be. Perhaps you're familiar with them, but I post them here as much a reminder to myself as anything else.
1. BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of the Word in the direction of Truth and Love.
2. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
4. ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST. Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Life, to me, is a continual unfoldment and years are simply human constructs meant to give us a sense of order and to delineate the human condition. Still, I will be quietly celebrating the turning of the page. I plan to pop the cork on a bottle of homemade wine made by my son, Coleman, from the grapes that we gathered from my vine back on that sunny day in mid-September. No dirty dancing in a bar at midnight with someone I barely know, as I did way back when, when way too many Cosmopolitans and a sad heart made me think that was a good idea, or a reasonable facsimile of one.
No, tonight will be just Buddy and me in the comfort of low light in our living room. I'll say a little prayer that I might practice those Four Agreements more consistently and then one for the world, that we might all learn to, and not just practice them, but live them.
Andrew Wyeth, "Long Limb"
Winslow Homer, "Bridle Path, White Mountains"