“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

– Dalai Lama

As we go about our days, we mostly blindly obey the rules that we encounter: rules of the road (stop – go – yield), rules of politeness (holding doors, saying thank you, refraining from seemingly necessary violence), rules of safety (locking your door, looking behind you, checking twice if the coffee maker is shut off). We even go further and obey the rules of our pertaining governments: not committing a crime, complying with the law, paying taxes, etc. At some point, all these rules had a beginning and a purpose – possibly to make our lives easier, safer, and more controlled, streamline. There was once a sense of justice:  If I’m paying taxes, so should my neighbor. I’m in a hurry – why does the guy in front of me stop at EVERY stop sign? The barista messed up my order and didn’t even apologize – I’m entitled to a refund. In how far are we entitled to anything? And are we allowed to break any rules at all? If so, would everyone else be allowed the same?

While I’ve been moving from city to city, country to country, some rules change, some laws change, most stay the same, but are on a different level. In Germany, we have a different perception of service, for example. In comparison to the US, we are not obliged to smile and fulfill the customer’s every wish – we are there because we get paid. In the US, your job is your life – if you’re working in service, you most likely live off of the tips you receive, which most of the time are a direct reflection of your service quality. Or an a**hole customer who doesn’t care that you work for a living too.

There are general rules which I feel certain are worth complying with. Rules of the road, safety for yourself and others. I do not want to be responsible for hurting someone – ever – in any way. Does heartache fall into that category? Probably… but it’s more psychological, although pertaining to the heart. What if that other person cannot make up their mind? They are torn and are simply at a loss. Yet you cannot wait around forever. You cause them heartache, they cause you heartache – there is no law to prevent that. What if there was? What if you could get to know a person up to a certain level, and if it got serious, you have to obey the law of promiscuity and commitment? If you fail, your first warning would be a fine, then jail, then death by execution? Our planet would be empty. But the few who survive freely are promiscuous – yeih!

We go about our lives every day, wrapped up in our own world, our own concerns, problems – I still have to fill out these papers; I really should call my accountant; I promised to do the laundry two days ago, but I have this thing… I believe we are allowed to break some rules. Not rules of safety or respect, but to be able to live with yourself and those around you. By no means am I a non-conformist. I actually love rules, boundaries and the reason why most of them were established. But I also believe that a lot of people simply overdid it. They took the quote in this headline a bit too lightly, stepped over the line and messed it up for everyone else. So I believe in finding your way in a dignified and respectful way. Obey the law, know the rules and see how far you can go. It’s a dare and a challenge – I love challenges ;).

(#My500Words Day 20)

Related:

“It Couldn’t Be Done”

BY EDGAR ALBERT GUEST

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

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