November 4, 2013

Life Outside the Rules. ~ Melissa Petty

“You can’t have creativity unless you leave behind the bounded, the fixed, all the rules.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Forget the rules. All of them.

Well, maybe not all of them (like, the ones that say people shouldn’t steal). What I’m talking about is freedom from confines and constrictions. We are so often told what to do, how to think, what to: wear, eat, watch on TV, use to wash our hair.

In all honesty, most of it is bullshit.

And the worst part of all of it: we generally impose these rules upon ourselves.

Rules about spending, and eating, and time management. Rules can be great. They offer structure and control; however, rules can also be a personal tool of oppression.

“I can’t have cake, I haven’t had dinner yet… and furthermore, I had a lot of sweets today. So, I really just can’t. At all.”

When, what I really mean is: “Cake is delicious. Can I have two?”

In these situations I have to ask myself when I am more happy. When I let myself indulge and have a piece of god-damned cake? Or when I abstain and make the “good” choice?

Obviously, cake all day, every day is not the right choice—but sometimes cake is the best choice.

When we limit ourselves with rules and expectations we’re setting the stage for inevitable disappointment. Either we are letting ourselves down by “giving in” to whatever is tempting us. Or, we are constantly denying ourselves things we desire.

Every rule we create for ourselves is a wall. Sure, our walls give us security, certainty and protection; but, these same walls prevent us from exploration and growth.

Testing our boundaries is essential to our existence. It prevents boredom. It ignites passion. It inspires creativity. It entices us to travel further, try more, be bolder and seek happiness.

So this is when we must ask ourselves, “What are all of these rules for anyway?” They stem from a variety of places, but most commonly: fear and/or the need for control. We only see the unknown outside of our comfort zone and not the fun, spontaneity, and freedom.

The world is a turbulent place, there is very little that we can predict on a daily basis. And so, we cling to rules, limits and routine to counteract the incessant spinning. We are fearful of releasing ourselves from them because we believe that structure is our whole identity.

The point that we are missing is that we have an infinite potential outside of the barriers that we create for ourselves. We are busy stifling our wants and needs and calling it “living.” But in reality it’s life in a cage. We oppress our true nature because we feel as though our actions are the only things that we have control over. Which is 100 percent correct.

That being said, the more we limit ourselves the smaller our experience becomes. And while abandoning our boundaries completely may seem unreasonable and terrifying that doesn’t exclude the opportunity to place a toe over the line every once and a while.

Stretching past our own perceived borders can provide us the chance to feel mischievous, decadent, rebellious and like a straight up bad-ass.

That’s the trick really, understanding that when you break or reevaluate the rules that you live by it doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. You don’t have to change the fiber of your being—you just have to say “fuck it” every once and a while.

It feels good, I promise.


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Ed: Sara Crolick

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Melissa Petty