TO IRENE ON HER 13TH BIRTHDAY

In the NPR StoryCorps piece that aired on December 25, 2011, former students of John Hunter tell what it was like being a student in his class. One student, Irene Newman, who is currently studying peace, war and defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, tells about a letter that Mr. Hunter sent her on her thirteenth birthday.

Newman says she received two pages of advice from Hunter.

One of the bits of information that Mr. Hunter shared with Irene was that  “Most problems are actually pretty simple to solve. We superimpose so much on them that they become so complex.” Irene Newman shared that her experience with complex problem solving in real world issues made her feel empowered as well as intellectual. That someone would respect her enough to challenge here gave her a different outlook on the rest of school and her sense of her contribution in life.

Below is the whole list of twenty-two life tips that John Hunter shared with Irene Newman on her thirteenth birthday. I would say, surely this is a list to live by.

1.   How to handle any crisis:  Control your breathing when in difficult circumstances. Breathe slow and deep.

2.   Healthy is very, VERY important. Exercise regularly all through your life.

3.    Go beyond moral law. Think:  is the action functional, adaptable, sustainable?  If so, it is correct. People may consider you an outlaw, fool, ordinary, or a saint, yet you have acted properly.

4.   Every is really all one thing….Really.

5.   Allow “lag time” to introspect when asked to agree to something, particularly something requiring great commitment. Say: “Let me get back to you later on that.”

6.   Accept NO abuse and do not subtly abuse or seek to manipulate others.

7.   Prioritize vertically (“most important, next most, etc.) rather than horizontally (“everything is equally important, and all due at once.”)

8.   Act as if any party you attend is actually your party. Gret all as if you are the host.

9.   Watch closely the small things, the tiny, almost unnoticeable beginning of things, and you will be well prepared when things manifest fully. People will think you are psychic. You are merely observant.

10.  Make time for daily reflection and meditation. This will prolong your life.  Relax completely.

11.  Eat just enough. Eat fruits and vegetables separately. Fact:  Vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. The animals will appreciate this, but don’t become a food fascist. Live and let live, each to their own.

12.  SEEK to help others, in particular, look out for older people who may have been forgotten. Show them respect, (and your true caliber) even if they appear to be bad people.

13.  When in danger or difficult times, the superior person stands still, and waits for a way to open. If she must move, she takes the line of least resistance.

14.  When you don’t know what to do, sweep the floor and clean the house…no, really!

15.  Speak in a soft and pleasant voice.  You would not believe the deep effect of soft, kind words on the world.  Even when speaking forcefully, speak positively, with an eye to a positive outcome for everyone.

16.  The power of your intent can actually magnetize anything to you.  Everything is connected. Deeply feel what you really want, intend it, and its essence must flow to you.

17.  When it is time to stop, just stop.  When finished, be done.  Wash your hands, and move on.

18.  There is actually no such thing as bad or good, only perspectives. Yet one can still be a moral person., with this understanding.  Remember Yin and Yang, both necessary to make wholeness.

19.  Whe is behind the facade of life? Conceptual thinking is a phantom superimposed upon existence.  The Buddhists talk of the inherent emptiness of all things.  Yet one with this understanding can live a joyful life. I know because I have seen this myself.

20.  All through your life:  Awareness, Grattitude and Appreciation, Compassion.

21.  A decision to be made is more than just intellectual.  Open to the depth of feeling and intuition, and combine them all. Then, sleep on it.

22.  Most problems are actually pretty simple to solve.  We superimpose so much on them that they become complex.