John Howell’s “Rule is as Rule Does” which I reblogged the other day got me thinking about life and how we invent our own rules as we go along. I make rules for myself and I follow them with almost religious fervor. But I hate rules and resent them. I was born rebellious.
The only rules I follow are my own. What are those rules? I’m glad you asked.
I’ve had an interesting life in which the light at the end of the tunnel has pretty much always been the headlight of an oncoming train. At one point, I got so stressed I could barely breathe. That was when I realized I needed to do things differently. I had plenty of problems without stressing myself to death.
I began by getting a tattoo, a visible symbol of my life. It was an acknowledgement of change and in a way, an acceptance of my survival and the likelihood of having to do it over again. I didn’t know at the time how right I was. It is a large phoenix tattoo. It’s a one-of-a-kind, designed for me. I had it put toward the back of my left calf. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so big, but I’ve come to quite like it. I was 57 when I got my piece of body art. It’s my only tattoo. One shouldn’t make permanent life decisions in a hurry or before one is old enough to know ones own mind (that’s a rule too). A tattoo is more permanent than most marriages, so if you’re going to get one, make it neutral enough so if life changes a lot, it won’t be a highly visible embarrassment for long decades to come. Spelling and punctuation count. A typo in a tattoo is with you forever.
I never really formulated my rules before, so this has been an interesting exercise. I don’t expect anyone else to follow them, though they aren’t bad and I don’t think they would hurt anyone. They come out of years of doing everything wrong, of worrying myself into ulcers, of simmering with anger at injustice, and being frantic with concern over every ecological or political crisis. I never learned anything the easy way. These dozen rules work for me.
- Laugh often. Cultivate friends who share your sense of humor.
- If you can’t fix it, don’t brood about it.
- Have a pet. Cats, dogs, chickens, ferrets, bunnies, reptiles, bats or birds. Anything but spiders. I don’t like spiders.
- Don’t argue with stupid people.
- When you know you’re wrong, give up and apologize.
- Worrying is a waste of time. Whatever you are worried about, something else will happen.
- Staying angry at someone who wronged you hurts you, not them. They aren’t losing sleep over you. Forget it. Move on.
- Be a gracious winner. People may sympathize with a sore loser, but everyone resents a gloating winner.
- The path less traveled frequently winds up at a dead-end. Before traveling down unmapped roads, be sure you know how to make u-turns in tight spaces.
- When you have a choice, do the right thing. If you don’t have a choice, do the best you can.
- Brutal honesty is inevitably more brutal than honest. Be kind.
- If you’re an artist, do your thing. Talking about it doesn’t count.
One rule to rule them all:
Make your own rules and live your own life. Everyone is unique. Celebrate your difference.
- Jewish burial hope has film star Drew Barrymore seeking tattoo removal (thejc.com)
- Incredible Misspelled Tattoos (oddstuffmagazine.com)