The First Rule of Rule Breaking

Life sometimes feels like it is just one big rulebook, full of rules which start with the word ‘Don’t’.

Some are helpful. These are the rules of experience. Someone, usually more than one person, has done these things and suffered the consequences, so the rule is created as a way of saying ‘I did this and it was a bad idea’ or ‘My friend did this and died, so be careful.’ Fair enough. Useful to know.

Some are pretending to be helpful. These are often created by loved ones who try to control us so we won’t get hurt, make them worry about us. Some are made by wise people who are passing that wisdom on. They want to give us a head start in life. ‘Don’t make the same mistakes I made, it wastes a lot of time, and goes nowhere good’. Which is admirable, but often misguided because what works or doesn’t work for one person, does not necessarily apply to others. And making mistakes is a very important part of life. Sometimes mistakes are the doorway to success. If you don’t make them because you followed a rule which was helping you to avoid making them, then you might miss a superb opportunity.

Some are created to stop us from doing whatever it is we are doing or about to do because it is annoying someone else, even if they don’t know us. Bossy rules without satisfying reasons to back them up. Don’t do this because I say so rules. These ones create many frustrations on both sides of the rule, those who make them get irritated if people don’t follow them, and those who follow them feel stifled and restless living under the thumb of someone else. Passive aggression lives inside these rules, and eventually explodes into open aggression.

Some go with taking a hypocritical oath. Rules which apply to us, but not to the one making the rules. Don’t do this, I can do it, but you can’t. Don’t question me. Don’t point out the inconsistency or you’ll get your head bitten off. You have to be sensitive to my needs, while I can be completely insensitive to yours. Sometimes this is conscious, sometimes subconscious. Either way it is incredibly infuriating. But we all do it, a little bit, or a huge lot.

Some are very old. Ancient. Dusty. Some are very new. Shiny. Clean. Developed to cope with our rapidly changing society.

Some rules are sensible, some senseless. Social rules. Social network rules. Antisocial rules. Hacker rules. Rules for law abiding citizens. Rules for rule-breakers. Tribal rules. Loner rules. Rules for belonging. Rules for not belonging. Offline rules. Online rules. Visible rules. Invisible rules, tangible, yet intangible. And so on and so forth into infinity.

Then there are natural rules, universal rules, those make sense and usually encourage the flow of life. They are flexible in many ways, and inexorable in others. We are born, we live, we grow old, we die. As yet no one has stepped forward to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these rules can be broken. Perhaps they have been, and we don’t know it. If I was 800 years old, I probably would not tell anyone. Rule #whatever – Don’t ask someone their age. If I had found the elixir of eternal youth, I think I might keep it a secret. It would cause such complete chaos to reveal the find, that the world might implode. Just a thought. Not a particularly well thought out thought as I haven’t found eternal youth, immortality, or any other natural law breaker. Yet. If I had it would probably take the rest of my eternally youthful never-ending life to figure out if I should share it.

We are born into rules, we accept them, we follow them blindly, then we rebel, break them, and replace the ones we’ve broken with others. And so on.

The rules we make for ourselves are often the hardest ones to live with, and the most difficult ones to break. Because we made them. They belong to us, and we are very attached to them. We defend them fiercely when they are challenged, even if they completely suppress our impulses, and repress our energy, our joie de vivre.

The rules which bother me the most are the invisible ones. Those mysterious forces which control me like a puppet in the hands of a master puppetteer. There is one of these manipulating me right now. It’s driving me crazy. It is an invisible wall. I am a mime, enclosed by it, unable to see it, but able to touch it. I want to break through it and see what is on the other side. What life would be like if I cut the strings which tie me to it. I just don’t know how.

The first rule of breaking rules is to know the rule you are breaking, the ins and outs of it, so that you can smash it to smithereens. If you don’t understand it, then it won’t break properly, it will just get dented or cracked and so it still applies whether you like it, accept it, or not.

So, how many rules have you broken today, and what are they?