HOW TO BE PERFECT
BY RON PADGETT
from the Blue issue
Everything is perfect, dear friend.
Get some sleep.
Don't give advice.
Take care of your teeth and gums.
Don't be afraid of anything beyond your control. Don't be afraid, for instance, that the building will collapse as you sleep, or that someone you love will suddenly drop dead.
Eat a bowl of Kellog's raison bran every morning.
Raise your pulse rate to 140 beats per minute for 20 straight minutes four or five times a week doing anything you enjoy.
Hope for everything. Expect nothing.
Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room before you save the world.
Know that the desire to be perfect is probably the veiled expression of another desire - to be loved, perhaps, or not to die, ever.
Make eye contact with a tree.
Be skeptical about all opinions, but try to see some value in each of them.
Dress in a way that pleases both you and those around you.
Do not speak quickly.
Stay out of debt and small swimming pools.
Learn something every day.
Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.
Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't forget what made you angry.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Design your activities so that they show a pleasing balance and variety.
Be kind to people even when they are obnoxious.
Live with an animal.
Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.
Ask for help if you need it.
Cultivate good posture until it becomes natural.
If someone murders your child, get a shotgun and blow his head off.
Do not drink alcohol for ten years, starting today.
Plan your day so you never have to rush.
Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if you have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.
Do not waste money you could be giving to those who need it.
Expect society to be defective.
When you borrow something, return it better condition.
Use wooden objects.
Go to the New York City Ballet to see Balanchine's work before his effect wears off. (It may already be too late.)
Eat whole wheat bread.
Visit foreign countries.
Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.
Meditate on the spiritual.
Sing, every one in a while.
Be on time.
Do not be angry when others are late.
Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.
Don't eat fat, a lot of red meat, sugar, or salt.
Don't think that progress exists.
Do not practice cannibalism.
Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do anything to make it impossible.
Take your phone off the hook at least twice a week.
Keep your windows clean.
Extirpate all traces of personal ambitiousness.
Don't use the word 'extirpate' too often.
Forgive your country every once in a while.
Rest if you feel tired.
Buy more than one subway token at a time.
Count among your true friends people of various stations of life.
Appreciate simple pleasures: the pleasure of chewing, the pleasure of warm water, the pleasure of a cool breeze, the pleasure of falling asleep.
Learn how to stretch your muscles. Stretch them every day.
Don't be depressed about growing older.
Do one thing at a time.
If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20 minutes.
Learn how to whistle at ear-splitting volume.
Know how to swim to the nearest shore.
Know how to help an injured or unconscious person.
Be calm in a crisis. The more critical the situation, the calmer you should be.
Enjoy sex, but don't become obsessed with it.
Contemplate everything's opposite.
Don't weigh more than you should.
Keep your childish self alive.
Answer letters promptly.
Cry every once in a while, but only when alone. Then appreciate how much better you feel.
Do not inhale smoke.
Take a deep breath.
Have dinner about the same time every night, in the company of people you like.
Do not smart off to a policeman.
Do not step off the curb until you can walk all the way across the street.
Walk down different streets.
Remember beauty, which exists, and truth, which does not.
Stay out of jail.
In later life, become a mystic.
Use Crest toothpaste in the new Tartar Control formula.
Visit friends and acquaintances in the hospital.
Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.
Do not go crazy a lot. It's a waste of time.
Read and reread great books.
Dig a hole with a shovel.
In winter, humidify your apartment and lightly grease your nostrils before you go to bed.
Know that the only perfect thing is a 300 game in bowling.
Drink lots of water. When asked what you would like to drink, say, 'Water, please.'
Be kind to physical objects.
Beginning at age 40, have a complete 'physical' every five years.
Don't read the Village Voice.
Learn how to say 'hello,' 'thank you,' and 'chop sticks' in Mandarin.
Belch and fart, but quietly.
Be especially cordial to foreigners.
At every chance go see shadow puppet plays.
Take out the trash.
Use exact change.
When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.