What’s Important

22:28 Mon 29 Jan 2007
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A few years ago, in discussion with friends, I came up with a list of the things that are important to me. Not physical things, more like the “high concepts” I consider to be of paramount importance.

I make no claim to actually live my life in accordance with these things, although I like to think that I try. This is just my answer to “what are the five most important things?”


Great, I start with something I can’t even define.

I don’t just mean (R/r)omantic Love, although that’s included in here. And I’m pretty sure that this applies mainly to living beings, i.e. love of another person and not love for your car. There are all kinds of flaws with that kind of restriction, but that I’m tempted to go in that direction should go some way towards indicating what I mean by “love”. For me, it’s love of friends, of lovers, of self, and of humanity. Yes, I do think it’s possible to love humans as a group, both in the abstract and specifically. And while in many ways I’ve been conditioned not to, I still think the ideal default emotion one should hold towards a stranger is love (although not necessarily trust… and that brings up a whole other pile of definitional questions).


I think anyone who knows me knows this already. I’ve always been interested in truth, in what’s really going on, in what lies under the easy answer and beyond the comforting story. I do believe there is truth beyond “subjectivity”, despite the many issues with measurement, evaluation, language, habit, and the chains of thought. My belief in the importance of reason (particularly applied via logic and the scientific method) stems from its usefulness as a path to truth. It’s not the only path, I think, but it is clearly the most reliable one we have.


Bringing something from nothing. Or reconfiguring existing somethings to make something new, something different. I’m not hung up on “originality” here, nor on constraining this to the traditional forms like writing, music, etc. The creation of anything that aims for expression of self, of understanding life. (Creativity and Art are not the same thing… not that defining Art is any easy task either.)


I originally said “Intricate Play”, but I’ve decided to drop “intricate”. Play in any form is a wonderful thing. Also, I strongly suspect that it might not be play if it doesn’t contain some form of self-challenge, and so will tend towards intricacy in any realms that you’re already skilled at. Play is an expression of joy on some level, as well as being to varying degrees a confrontation with the possibility of failure.


They’re not quite the same thing… and I still can’t quite determine which of the two I mean. It’s probably both. I’ve always been that way, preoccupied with things being fair, and strongly desiring a world both fair and just. As with all the others, concrete definitions are hard to come by. But with few exceptions I tend towards believing in the greatest good for the greatest number.

Those are the five. In my view the glaring omission is Freedom, which I consider critically important. But I find it difficult to see how any of the others can be approached or negotiated without freedom, and in addition I often believe that we are all free, so in certain respects Freedom is present at a kind of meta-level. Which might be cheating.

Love. Truth. Creativity. Play. Fairness/Justice.

6 Responses to “What’s Important”

  1. NiallM Says:

    Dude! What about money and power??!

  2. kevintel Says:

    And sex. Man, I think sex is right up there, nothing beats a good rough shag with the womens of your heart. Or, well, some sort of variation there of, horses for courses. With money and power, I think it comes along in due course.

    That and coke.

    As if everybody here would know exactly what I was talking about, as Paul Simon would say.

  3. Tadhg Says:

    Well, Kev, then I guess this is for you.

    I think sex has a better argument for being in the top five than money and power, myself.

  4. Frank Says:

    I believe freedom is a prerequisite to fairness/justice. In my view, you got it covered.

  5. garret Says:

    Garfunkel was more talented.

  6. kevintel Says:

    He may have been more talented. May have been. But I don’t think his opinions on sex and coke were as informed, Paul Simon made the money and got the power.

    He also made ‘Capeman: the musical’, so perhaps that weighs against him and gives Garfunkel the moral high ground. We’ll never know for sure if he was more talented though.

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