Paul Greenberg

Obey the rules. You'll sleep better. Imagine if everyone did.

Don't settle for less than the best. One of the best buys I ever made was a North Face parka. I thought long and hard before I shelled out the couple hundred bucks it cost in 1983. But, hey, I was going to Siberia. I splurged. It kept me warm in Irkutsk and Novosobirsk and on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. And it's seen me through many a winter since. Also, the hidden pocket came in handy when I left what was then the Soviet Union with a casette tape that a refusenik asked me to get out. She's in Israel now. Russia is slipping back into chains.

Don't turn on the television, except maybe during tornado season. There may be some exceptions to that rule ("Lonesome Dove," "The Forsyte Saga," "Sesame Street"), but in general TV may be the greatest time-waster ever invented.

It's not the trash, the inanity, the shout shows, the sex-with-violence that's the worst thing about television. It's the escapism, the unspoken but all-permeating message that your life isn't the one worth watching. Savor the written word instead, or the spoken one in real, human conversation. Yes, don't settle for less than the best.

The South will rise again, just not in the way we expected.

A capacity for surprise is the truest sign of the believer.

Don't be embarrassed to change your mind. No one should have to live with a bad decision.

Stop. The world is a conspiracy to keep us running instead of thinking. Or feeling.

Look before you leap, and he who hesitates is lost. Take your choice. Or mix and match depending on the occasion.

And, oh yes, beware of old guys handing out maxims.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.