Simplicity in Marriage by Will Ringland

Yesterday was a frigid day to get married. I can understand the desire to have remote weddings when you live here. California, Hawaii, Tahiti all do not threaten to claim a toe if your vows take too long.

We did not seek to make it a large affair, it was really more a deal that we personally preferred but there is a certain amount of ceremony required by law when you get married otherwise it isn't official.

In Madison, you can contact any justice on the court to request they perform your ceremony. We chose Justice Kloppenberg (1), who I appreciate for running a clean, and civil campaign against Justice Prosser when she ran for the Supreme Court in 2012. She seemed a good person which was verified yesterday when she read our vows (2).

So we gathered yesterday, Alyska and I and two of our closest friends, on the zebra striped throw (3) rug facing lake Monona and pledged to love each other especially when the cats being reticent with their own affection.

A few tears, a good few chuckles, and a sneaky surprise (4), and it was done.

Short and sweet. Minimal. I wish the ceremony and legal pieces if marriage were entirely separate and, to save you from a tirade on religious vestiges in modern law, I'll just reiterate that simple is what we wanted as we enter into Today which only feels as if it should be surreal rather than actually being surreal.

We intend to observe our relationship on the date it started - in June over tea in when talked about what dating would mean for us in our lives in 2011 (6). So, we will hold a celebration this summer when the warmth that we feel for each other, and that we know all of you hold for us, will be better reflected in the atmosphere.

    2. We wrote our own vows and ceremony. I had a small interjection about the cats that nearly made the Justice laugh while she read it.
    3. Alyska noted today that Justice Kloppenberg was also wearing animal print sandals. Judges robes and animal print sandals! So awesome.
    4. We ordered custom rings off Etsy becaues we both like hand made work and really dislike the wedding ring complex. The one I ordered did not arrive after numerous emails ignored from the shop owner. So, in a fit of crafty genius, Alyska and Jen made the one I am wearing above in an afternoon (5) that is very close in style to the one I purchased.
    5. Look, I chose good, folks. What can I say?
    6. Us both being nonmonogamous and she in a toxic triad at the time, it was more complicated than your typical polyamorous dealings. OK, so maybe we're not exatly simple in all things....

Where Resolve goes to Die by Will Ringland

The order of the virtues is purposeful. Maintaining temperance helps keep the mind sharp and aware of what you’re doing. Eating too much, especially sugars in my case, make the mind flabby and prone to indulgence. My resolve dies at the bottom of the whisky glass.

One the first day of this project I outlined 3 edicts to help control my intake:

  1. no alcohol on an empty stomach
  2. no more than one, measured drink
  3. stop eating before feeling full

And this week I have broken those first two edicts numerous times. When I drink too much, I eat too much and when I eat too much, I don’t sleep; when I don’t sleep, I have to determination; when I have no determination, I drink too much.

It’s fitting, too, that this is happening on my week on Resolve. This is the time a per son gives up when before them all they see are broken promises and the renewed power of their bad habits. This is where the easy option is to say “fuck it” and run away from battle.

No, I’m not interested in stopping. It’s easy to fall into bad patterns. That’s what I’m trying to address with this whole project. And I knew it was going to be a struggle. This is the essence of resolve - strength in the face of failure.

Resolve’s earliest form appears as Fortitude in the Greek cardinal virtues. It is alternately defined as fortitude, strength, and endurance. In most cases, it is used as a characteristic feature for martial classes and is heavily intertwined with fearlessness in the face of hurt, harm, or death. Other ethical systems take a similar tack using these virtues as their foundation.

Bushido, for example, lists courage which is defined thus:

"The ability and willingness to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation."

The Chivalric Code (1) includes martial courage in “Thou shalt not recoil from thine enemies”(2). Confucius had a poetic expression of “resolve” encapsulated by one who maintains their way,

“He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.”

Nearly every other ethical system, religious or otherwise, include courage as a core virtue and while I believe Franklin was intending to skirt the martial aspects of resolve - he was a diplomat and pacifist at heart(4) - you cannot treat resolve like anything other than perseverance in war.

As with any endeavor at self improvement, be it attaining moral perfection or even just not drinking on an empty stomach, it takes courage to change. Change is scary and it’s simpler to fall into old patterns.

Maya Angelou encapsulates the interdependence of any change with the virtue of resolve:

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. “

Resolve is the hardest to keep. The intention of the order of the virtues is that each builds upon the next. Temperance in food and drink keeps the body health and the mind sharp. Silence brings us the clarity needed to find our truth. Resolve keeps us on the path even as trouble mounts.

So. Today is a new day and, though we’ve fallen off the path, it’s just over there. Why not get back on it?

1. Which is super fun to say. ChavALric Coooooode.

2. What is with Christian edicts starting with “shalt not”? Is being permissive problematic? (3)

3. Yes.

4. Which is interesting because Puritans were pretty rough and tumble. They were ready to fight during reformation for their principles. In part, I think shows how much more closely Franklin identified with the Quakers and Deists in Pennsylvania.

Promises to Keep by Will Ringland

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Virtue isn’t self sacrifice - giving all your money to charity, never drinking, always working. Blending self interest with civic mindedness keeps a person healthy and secure in their abilities as long as they balance their intrinsic needs with extrinsic aid. Consider Franklin’s establishment of the post office.

As a self-run printing shop in colonial Pennsylvania, Franklin’s publication only had so much reach with a limited number of people and inconsistent contact to neighboring towns. Without dedicated routes to other cities run by nationalized couriers, you couldn’t ensure anything you sent could make it.

I think many of Franklin’s had two modes of expression - internal and external virtue. Each has a component designed to make a person better for themselves and better to the world. Take resolve - resolve is really about keeping promises, being a person who does the things they say they’re going to do.

Promises are not just things we say we’re going to do for our boss or spouse but the things we say we’re going to accomplish for ourselves.

Things I will do for me

Another word for this is “determination”. Goal setting, yearly resolutions, even some times little things like getting up early require determination to accomplish. Franklin’s primary interest her was to constantly work towards his goals. Ideally we will set out to do things we really want to do rather than expending our time and energy in useless, fruitless endeavors.

My first edict for Resolve: 1. Complete the tasks you lay out for yourself in the day.

Things I will do for you.

Dependability is the external expression of Resolve. Being a reliable person in business and pleasure makes you a better person. We all want to be noble and honorable people and that is impossible if you can’t keep your word. This aspect may not be as goal driven but is the sort of thing that builds lasting relationships that support you through struggle.

Edict the second for Resolve: 2. Make promises you can keep and do your utmost to keep them.


Resolve is the first virtue that builds off of previous virtues. Temperance, Silence, Order can stand on their own but Resolve requires a well-ordered life to fully fruit. It does not, however, make sense to develop it until you’ve experienced the previous.

Temperance, Silence, and Order are about self-control. You keep close watch on what food and drink you take. You carefully express yourself. You organize and plan your daily tasks and goals. These are meant to keep your mind clear and focused on today and tomorrow.

Resolve is the ability to do these things you lay out. And if you’re bad at ordering your life, building resolve is an ordeal if not entirely insurmountable. The struggles I had with order last week went hand in hand with resolve. Overestimating my own abilities for things I an do in a day, especially when large portions of my days are dedicated to people or problems mostly outside of my control, is a death sentence for my willpower.

So, what does that mean?

Plan better. I’ve come to realize that I have been poorly managing my time - I’m Order deficient. When I plan poorly my time, I am unable to accomplish what I lay out and am, thereby, breaking promises to myself and others. And I can’t have that.

This week I'll be looking carefully at the things I choose to do so that they are reasonable and balance well between work and play. I don’t think it reasonable that on, say, days where I’m leading hours of meetings to then say I’m going to produce well-research historical blog posts on Franklin’s flirtatious letter writing (holy cow). No, running meetings drains me and I may need to just read a book that evening. And that's ok if I plan for it.

The key here is that I’m not just withdrawing into nothingness. Rather, I am understanding where my energy has to go and taking care to own that and own my recovery.

If I’m planning poorly, I am not keeping promises to me or to you.