Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Rule(s) of life

I've been thinking a lot this past week about rules. I've decided I'm sick them.

When you stop to think about it, we live our lives by an alarming number of rules. And by rules, I mean things like: don't wear white after Labor Day. Major in something where the jobs are. Always participate in the office Christmas thingy. Never send an email as a thank-you note. Take only an hour (no more) for lunch. No open-toed shoes at work. Don't have long hair after 40. Or 30.

Some rules are non-negotiable. Those are laws. Pay your taxes, get your car inspected, don't speed, etc. Laws are usually just rules all grown-up and legitimized. Adolus Huxley, a philosopher I studied in college, called them "Perennial Philosophies".... the things you have to do regularly to stay balanced. And legal. Those are okay.

No, what's been bothering me is those rules that were somewhere, somehow ingrained in me by others. The rules that I've allowed to beat me down solely because they may have served my Mom, my boss, or some old boyfriend well.

I'm tired of making my bed and feeling guilty when I don't. I like using a fresh towel after every shower - even if it is ecologically disrespectful. I'm sick of trying to heed family advice. I want more than one Diet Coke a day. I revel in watching hours of Gilmore Girls DVDs. I don't want to answer the door. I hate checking the mail everyday.

AND SUDDENLY, yesterday, it finally dawned on me. These are not my rules. Why do I spend such a large chunk of my day minding these externally-mandated rules that don't enhance my life in any significant way?

Yep, it's time to use some judgment. To separate the essential rules from the extraneous. To find out what works for me. In my life.

So I lay awake last night and came to this conclusion: I'll have three rules, and three rules only, by which to live my life. The rest will be negotiable and may not be practical (or funnest!) for me. They are from the Bible, and are: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.

That's it. That's enough.

So, no, I won't stress over making the bed. That was my Mom's rule, not mine. I will use 10,000 towels a day if I want. I won't feel silly for spending time making peanut butter/bird seed crackers for the birds at Freeman House. I will cut my hair whenever I feel like it. I will send an email thank-you note. I will be proud of my college major - I chose and earned it. I will sing to my cat, and blare my new Anna Nalick CD. I will eat banana pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if I want. I will lean back in my chair and wear white when I want and leave the dishes undone after dinner to catch these country sunsets. I won't feel guilty or incapable or remorseful for any decisions I've made or am making... despite what my Mom, or boss, or ex-boyfriends think.

These are my rules. This is how things are done in my life.

What about you??


Susan said...

I have struggled with these so called rule for sometime now. I'm always feeling quilty for some reason. I try and remember what my Grandmother used to say, "Don't should yourself" - don't tell your self you should have done this or I shouldn't have done that. Just do what is good for you.

Pamela Jane said...

My husband and I had a discussion just the other day on the difference between laws and manners. I opined that if more of us had good manners, those that obliged us to behave justly, humbly, and considerately towards others, we would need fewer laws meddling down into our daily doings -- and it certainly wouldn't matter to any but our closest whether we made the bed or not -- and then truly negotiable. ;)

Alison said...

I just found your blog today and was so intrigued I had to start at the beginning. This post spoke to me on many levels, as does everything else I've read of yours. I'm sure you've heard the same from other similar souls, but I had to comment!

Now I've got plenty of new reading material for those dull hours at work where I'm daydreaming. ;)