May 20, 2012

Laws for a good life

Filed under: MiscellAnnia — Ann @ 10:09 am

The Eight Laws

As a young girl I was involved with both Camp Fire Girls (now the more inclusively named “Camp Fire”) and Job’s Daughters. Although neither was strictly a religious organization, both had strong overtones along those lines, which probably accounts for the deeply felt spiritual connection I hold to this day.

Lately, because of Facebook, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my Camp Fire days. Someone created a Camp Seabow page — Camp Seabow was Camp Fire’s summer camp and my annual playground near Laytonville, California — and those of us who shared early memories of camping and Camp Fire in general have gathered there to post photos, remembrances, and updates. Recently, someone posted the eight “Laws of Camp Fire.” As a young girl I dutifully recited these (and even sang them, because a truncated version became our anthem) without giving them much deep thought. But this morning I took the time to examine each one:

Worship God – We’re free to interpret this one, and I hear it as a call to have some sort of spiritual practice, even if that means sitting on a beach contemplating the wonder of it all.

Seek Beauty – This law encourages us to “look for the good in all people, places, things and nature” — a wisdom I can’t argue with.

Give Service – This one reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers: “Get involved. The world is run by those who show up.”

Pursue Knowledge – The law in full reads: “Try new things. Experiment with a new skill. Learn more about something you already know.” Excellent, and I would add, “Pursue higher education,” because I believe in its power.

Be Trustworthy – It would be difficult to have a good life without abiding by this.

Hold onto Health – I had a major revelation about ten years ago: “Life is energy.” Put not-so-simply, without good, lively energy to see us through the day, life can be hellish. Maximize your chances by doing all the things They tell us to do and avoiding the enemies of vitality. You know the list.

Glorify Work – This law reads “Do the best you can with everything you do. Be proud of your work. Finish what you start.” I would modify it somewhat with an encouragement to “prepare yourself for and then seek work you feel passionate about.” A hated job is a one-way path to misery and despair.

And, lastly:

Be Happy – A lot of people get confused about this one, wondering how they can be happy when there is so much to be miserable about. If you’re still unsure, with an open heart and a willingness to entertain a different point of view, Google “happiness quotes” and start reading. Here’s a good resource. Many wise and learned men and women have had much to say over the centuries about the wisdom of choosing happiness. Acknowledging that it can be a choice is the first step to achieving joy.

I learned quite a bit about quite a lot when I was a Camp Fire Girl: how to lay a fire, how to swim, how not to rush the process of toasting marshmallows (useful as metaphor), and how to work towards something I find meaningful: in those days, achievement patches. Along the way, and especially as I grew older, I wish I’d given more attention to the eight Laws. Anyone seeking a brief guide to a good life would find these a step in the right direction. Nicely done, Camp Fire.

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