1. Be honest. Do not ever assume that I will not be able to tell bonhomie from true friendship or a fake smile from one that comes from the heart. If you did not like something I've written, for instance, I'd prefer to know why rather than listening to you damning the piece with faint praise. Tell me what you really feel - about a story, about a worldview, about hopes, about fears. I can hear truth when it is given to me. It RINGS in a voice.
2. Be courageous. If you believe in something, be passionate about it. Your heart is the last barricade, and the things you keep in it must be precious enough for you to fight for them if you need to. Don't pull back because you think that someone might hate you; someone somewhere will hate you anyway, on principle. You might as well, in that scenario, be hated for something RIGHT.
3. Be imaginative. Don't let reality stop you from taking flight - be the bumblebee, which is in theory utterly incapable of flight, and lo, there it is, flying. You have wings, we all do, it's just a matter of trying them out. Dare to dream of things that do not exist, cannot exist, have never existed, might just exist in the future if we are very lucky. Look up into the sky and see the Milky Way and cry because your heart fills with those impossible dreams. I'll be right there beside you.
4. Read. Have best friends who have never existed outside the covers of a book. I have plenty of them and we ALWAYS have a good time together. Bring your people to meet my people. We'll all have a blast.
5. Be open to being surprised by joy and wonder. Every so often, with the sky is grey and the day is miserable and the ground is soggy from three days of solid rain - go out and look at the damp world and find something wonderful (for instance, there's a tiny little waterfall near our house which ONLY goes if it's been raining solidly for three days or more - otherwise you'd never suspect that there was ever anything there on that sheer rock face. We take a childish delight in that waterfall, every time we pass it and it's tumbling down the wet stones in gay foamy abandon, only alive when everything else seems dead and sleeping...) Expect the unexpected. Pretend, occasionally, that you are flying across jungle-covered mountains and you angle around a corner into a valley that nobody has ever seen before and you see a ribbon of a waterfall a mile high tumbling from some crag rearing up into the clouds all the way down to the bottom of the cliff into a deep pool you know must be there but which you cannot see because it's hidden by the forest... feel the fierce joy at that sight. Feel the joy of having wings.
6. Have at least one sin or addiction, and dammit, glory in it. Nobody should have to be perfect. You drink pots of coffee every day? Hallelujah. So do I. You like to sneak cookies out of the cookie jar when nobody is looking? Hey, it fools nobody - they eventually end up on your hips anyway, but you might as well enjoy the delightful tiny guilt stab as you go steal your prize. You like reading those REALLY cheap trashy romantic novels for relaxation's sake? Go right ahead. Have at least one sin and do not be afraid of being judged for it. Like Leonard Cohen said, there's a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in - it's okay not to be perfect every moment of every day.
7. Be passionate. Have AT LEAST ONE THING, possibly more (but no more than three, that WOULD be exhausting) that you are really truly passionate about - that you would be willing to go to the mat for. Is it cruelty to animals? Is it discrimination? Is it the abuse of environment? Whatever - pick a cause. And then tell me about it. Passion fires me and energises me - and if you want to hear it, I will return the favour by telling you about things that I am passionate about. Do not, however, take this too far and assume that you have a right to evangelise. I will listen and I will applaud - but YOUR cause may not be MY cause and please don't be offended if I don't step right up and take up your banners or immediately agree with everything you say. This particularly goes to matters of faith, actually, because your freedom of religion really truly ends where my soul begins. What's between me and whatever deities I choose to believe in remains between me and those deities. You will NOT convert me to your faith by pushing it down my throat.
8. If you are a human being, you have emotions. SHOW THEM. I don't mean wearing your heart on your sleeve or mooning publicly over someone who doesn't know you exist (and probably doesn't want to). I mean, if something moves you, respond. Real men DO cry, too, if the situation warrants it, and I am far more likely to respect a man whom I see as having been moved to tears (by a movie he went to see with his girl, by a story, by something appalling that he's just seen on the news) than the one who just waves his gun around and looks on dead-eyed as anything and anybody not directly pertaining to him is anathema and needs to be excised from the world. Have a heart. Have a soul. Have a mind to go with them. What I'm after is INTELLIGENT EMOTION, or EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE - no real lasting decision can be made by anything human without listening to what your heart whispers about the matter. And if you need to cry... it's safe, with me. I will not judge or mock.
There. I have committed memery.