Follow/bend/break/make up the rules. Whatever works for you.
October 13, 2015
This month I was on holiday in southern Italy. The hotel was in a remote, rural area so each day my holiday companions and I would set out in our hire car to discover what exciting sights, smells and dynamic experiences we could throw ourselves into (actually, to be truthful, we were on a quest to find the best piazza-based cafe at which to people-watch, drink coffee and play cards). It turned out that the biggest adventure was to be had on the roads themselves rather than in the fishing and market towns we visited. Every time we'd have to swerve to avoid oncoming motorbikes, cars and lorries squarely sitting in our lane, or take our chances at traffic lights where red doesn't always mean stop. Sometimes it means go, or turn, or blast your horn. Vehicles around us had their own rules going on, travelling arbitrarily at half or twice the speed limit, whatever took their fancy.
Now, as I've mentioned before, I'm a rule-abider, but by the end of the week even I was driving at whatever speed felt good, or if the husband was driving I'd be nagging him - correction: gently encouraging him - to follow the Italians' lead and ignore the ever-present 'no overtaking' signs. "It doesn't mean you can't overtake when there's a straight bit of road ahead, silly! Get a move on - there's cards to be played and coffee to be drunk! What do you mean, I don't need any more coffee? DRIVE, DAMN YOU!"
It made me think: if no-one else is taking any notice of the rules, when does ignoring them become acceptable? How long do you hold onto what you believe to be right, or important, or 'the way we do things where I come from' in the face of no-one else giving a damn about those things, before it becomes something that's just holding you back?
There's that apocryphal story about the monkeys with a bunch of bananas on top of a ladder. It involves water and monkeys being substituted and crucially, for me, a CAGE, MONKEYS BEATING UP MONKEYS and NO-ONE EVEN GETS THE BANANAS. It's a story used by teachers and trainers to show the inertia that happens when we follow rules without knowing why. And here I am, using that same story used by countless others before me...because it's what we do when we have a message to give with a point that we want others to get. So you know what? Instead of doing that, I'm going to break the rules and do something else.
I'm leaving you with a picture of a cushion I've made for my home office which is silly and ridiculous and makes me chuckle when I look at it. Nobody can tell me it's uncool because it's my office, my cushion and my blog...and who decides what the rules are, anyway?!