I’m a rule maker by nature. I have made rules for everything. Once, I sat down and made a list of them. It wasn’t pretty. I had rules about writing and singing, exercising and showering, sleeping and eating. Even my rules had rules, and my life was paper-thin under their weight.
Rules can be helpful because they tell us what’s allowed and when. You shouldn’t hurt people, if you buy stuff you’ve got to pay for it, you normally need to wear clothes…
We all have personal rules that guide us in our relationships, our careers, and our creative endeavors. But some of these rules stomp on vulnerability and courage because they tell us we should look and think like everyone else. And if we have rules, it means they can be broken.
What happens when you break the rules? Punishment. It tells the story that we are bad. Our rule breaking or keeping defines our inherent worth as human beings, which leads to shame, which leads to fear and more shame. Goodbye bravery, goodbye engagement with life.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, because here’s the thing: unless you make them, there aren’t any rules.
Who says you have to have the job you have? Who says your creative projects have to look like someone else’s? Who says whether or not you’ve got something to say?
It’s exhilarating and terrifying. Because you’re in charge! Yes, families, friends and pets are important too, but you are the one who ultimately gets to decide your life.
When I first discovered this, I wanted to shout it from the top of the mountain! But I didn’t have a mountain, so instead I wrote a short song, which someday will be posted here.
I wonder if you have any rules that are preventing you from living whole-heartedly and creatively. If you look, you might be surprised at what you find. It’s your decision to keep them or let go of what doesn’t serve you. Unless you make them, there aren’t any rules!