The First Thing must come second, as there's a zeroing that must be established over four rules.
Rule of Success #1: The past is pointless.
I didn't come up with that. I don't necessarily even believe in it, or any of these rules. But in this tangible world which intangibly challenges us to try and remember what was done and if we are indeed the ones who did it, this rule introduces the most terrifying game God or WhoWhat came up with: Are we what we've done and what's been done to us, and can we still be ourselves if we want to make something different happen in the future? Or not?
My past has been spent being the rabbit, the hat, the magician, and the audience, all at once. When you make up the rules as you go along, the shows that came before are all merely warm-ups, and the real act always begins when the curtain closes. The show is easy, because the biggies are all covered -- if not beforehand, then during: Who, What, When, Where. Why and How are not in the audience's priorities, only in the performer's. And when it comes down to it, not even Why is of concern. Just keep juggling, and the past will have been justified, because it willfully adds to the creation of the present. The future will be nothing but a patient wait until the next performance, unless you never stop the act.
One time, I disappeared. I disappeared on somebody who needed me there. Other people had disappeared in this person's past as well, and all futures would either be vindicated through the process of the rewrite if I stayed, or the negative speculation would be proven correct based on my then-present behavior (read: current past). Leaving the great gift of disappointment via vanishing, I established an omnipresent curtain call in which that show will never end. Who needs applause when golden silence always rings loudest? If there is to be a point to my, or anyone's, past, should that past have closure, or is the open-ended nature of outward and inward time-denial always going to inform the present and the future? Sacrifice the past to keep the story moving forward? Who cares. It doesn't really mean much anyway. But it is fun to drive myself insane trying to figure out how time relates to my own ass. I have to look through old journals first to read what I used to say to myself and I'll get back to you.
Rule of Success #2: Strength needs no excuse.
Again, not my original thought, but an important one. Just ask the nearest single mother. Or body builder. Or anything that exists, period. Strength does not require reasoning, though it does require care. Strength simply needs a steady supply of meaning to be strong, much like all a fire really needs is an abundant source of oxygen. The true fuel of strength is will, the will to endure, the will to survive.
The product of strength, when pushed out of the self, is world change. Taking a punch is showing the world that you change it by not allowing it to change you. Punching back is informing the world that it is just as much a product of you as you are a product of it. It's the endurance of the world that matters, how many rounds can be fought, and the inhabitants of reality who keep fighting, that keeps everything spinning strong.
A butterfly flapping its wings just added to the revolution of this planet around the sun, as does the same impact of that butterfly's ichors across a vehicle's windshield. The evaporation of the wiper fluid that mingled with the butterfly's guts to keep the driver moving forward wafts from the asphalt of the highway back into the sky which that butterfly used to push its will across the globe. And you just breathed it all in as you yawned reading this. So did I. That's strength.
Strength is within everything, waiting or acting. Energy is a scam, regulated by nature or at least nature's management team. Strength is eternal, born of every beginning and everlasting through even energy's end.
I can do hopping knuckle push-ups, but it hurts sometimes. And not when I'm tired of proving how strong I am to myself or the person next to me. Butterflies cross oceans without rest. I have no excuses, but I'm strong enough to blame my past on my weaknesses. It's exhausting, but I look good naked now.
Rule of Success #3: Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting.
I have no response to this, but I wonder about it everyday of my amazing, amazing life.
And finally, so that we can all get on to the First Thing:
Rule of Success #4: The things you apologize for are the things you want.
Sorry about all that stuff I did through my past in the name of strength and personal interest, Lord. Sorry to everyone I ever hurt, pissed off, disappointed, lied to, screamed at, hung up on, swindled, grifted, connived, took advantage of, took for granted, took for a ride, didn't write back, didn't call back, didn't love enough, didn't pay attention to, left high and dry, insulted, marginalized, abused, tortured, killed, depended on, hoped for, believed in, loved, felt indebted to, cried over, groped, made scream, made the most of, made dinner for, made believe with, asked forgiveness from, met, known, lived on the Earth with, gave birth to, met in the afterlife, etc., Amen.
Sorry about all that. I won't do it again.
A promise is a present to the past and the future. I WILL do better. And that's a promise, Stupid.