That Great Philosopher: Marilyn Monroe

         “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”  ~ Dalai Lama XIV

            Admit it—sometimes life is just that little bit too complicated and we need a ready-made set of rules in order to navigate. But sometimes we don’t. Need rules. Sometimes we get a little rebellious and want to break a few rules. That is why I bought the book, “The Rules to Break” by Richard Templar.

            Well, I must say I am disappointed as the rules he “allows” us to break are then followed by other rules—so in essence I was not getting the freedom from rules that I was looking for. I was lured into buying the book by the Introduction which started out in a positive light in terms of what I was looking for. He said:

            “When you’re young you’re told all sorts of things; the best things in life are free, familiarity breeds contempt, patience is a virtue. And others personal to your own family or teachers…..Trouble is these principles, given as ‘advice’ from well-meaning people often aren’t true.”

            Alrighty then (I channel Jim Carrie sometimes), this guy is onto something I thought (a thought that turned out be somewhat premature). He had me with: “So here are the so-called rules that I encourage you to break…” but then he bursts the bubble of rebellion by saying: “At the end of each entry, I offer you a more reliable replacement or proper rule….” Apparently we can break rules as long as we replace them with other rules. I should have known there was a catch.           Templar seems as ensnared by rules as the rest of the world–as long as they are his rules.

            Rules are valuable—they give us structure, they point us in the right direction, and they govern us. What I do not like about rules is that they sometimes control us to the point where we no longer think for ourselves. Templar states that the message he is trying to get across in his book is to “Think”—“question everything you’ve been taught, and don’t live by other people’s rules until you’ve considered whether you agree with them.” Okay, I am starting to warm up to the guy. He says that we should give rules “a poke to see if they really do pass muster.”

            Playing games would not be the same without rules (though I have been known to make up a few especially in Scrabble). Chaos would reign without the rules of the road; and cooking (even the kind that I do) needs some kind of road map. But these are not the rules I take issue with. Albert Einstein is purported to have said: “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” Since he was a bit of a genius I am thinking there may be some wisdom to his words.

            Here are a few other words of wisdom having to do with rules—choose your favourite:

1. “Hell, there are no rules here—we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas Edison (a light bulb moment brought by the guy who invented it.) Given that he lit the world as we know it by introducing *“the world’s first economically viable system of centrally generating and distributing electric light, heat and power….” I think he can be forgiven for tossing aside a few rules.

2. “Civilization has too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them.” – Bill Cosby. A man of many honorary degrees, Dr. Cosby uses his wit and wisdom to beguile us still. The purveyor of Fat Albert and those iconic words of wisdom and compassion: “Hey, hey, hey….”over the years he has persuaded us to be kind and change the status of the underdog from loser to winner.

3. Marilyn Monroe (that philosopher of unrecognized truths) and Kate Hepburn (one of my favourite actresses) seem to be of the same mind when it comes to rules. Marilyn is reputed to have said: “If I’d observed all of the rules, I’d never have got anywhere” and Kate pipes up with “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.”

            I am sure you have your own set of rules, and rules you have broken, and I have no argument with either. Some rules are reasonable and following them is prudent, even shrewd. While not all rules are meant to be broken, many need sober second thought or as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.”

            End of lecture—class dismissed—now go out and break a few rules—but keep your principles intact.


*Gerald Beals, author of The Biography of Thomas Edison.

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25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reminds me of Bill Maher’s ‘new rules’ at the end of his show each week. Some of them are ridiculous, some of them make sense – and I think you nailed it. Maintain your integrity – ’cause no matter what, you have to live with your choices.

    • good point–I think we all get tired of being “bossed around” by those who are no more intelligent than we are

  2. I don’t mind rules, if I know they’re there for a good reason. However, one person’s good reason isn’t necessarily the same as the next persons.

    I’ve never been good at doing anything just because I was told to.

    Loved the post, particularly the mix of sources you chose for the snippets of wisdom.


    • I have never been good at doing things just because I was told to either–something gets me rankled by it–glad you liked it

      • And then once you’re agitated by a rule it becomes a growing problem.

        Your writing makes me think. 🙂

      • but once it becomes a growing problem–you try to solve it

      • Every time.

      • 🙂

  3. I think sometimes it was the ‘unspoken’ rules even that were harder sometimes ….. Diane

  4. I’ve never been good with rules. Maybe even a little too loose on the interpretation of some.. my favourite is the reinterpretation of the stop signs on the rural roads around here that we call “stoptionals”.

  5. We need rules (so we don’t crash our cars into each other), but I’ve never been a stickler for rules and make my own up as I go along. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t make up my own road rules 😉

    I remember when I was young and I went to visit a friend and her mother said, ‘these are the rules of our house, bla bla bla’ I didn’t listen because we never had a set of ‘rules’ in our house and it all seemed very foreign to me. I’ve never changed and cringe when I see things like books with titles like ‘rules for writing’ – yikes, there are certainly no rules when it comes to creativity 😀

  6. A nice thought-provoking piece… I thought rules were made to be broken?

  7. I admit that for a long time, I was a stickler for rules and it would shock me whenever anyone thought of even interpreting them in a looser way than I did. These days, I look at rules as more of guidelines. Actually talking to people and being sincere about your circumstances (should your circumstances require a bit of rule-bending/breaking) can get you a long way. I’m with Teddy on this one- as long as your principles don’t get warped, everything else sort of falls into place eventually. 😉

  8. Mark Twain said: Be good and you will be lonesome.

  9. You do write some thought-provoking blogs, LouAnn. As usual, I enjoyed this one very much. I am reading a very fascinating book called “The Gift of our Compulsions”. While the author doesn’t talk explicitly about rules, she does talk about our inner life and how we have a rebellious one and an inner controller, and how we often ricochet from one to the other without ever finding any peace. I am now listening really carefully when my inner rule-maker makes a statement and then listening deeper to what’s really required. You might like this book a lot. Heck, I might have even recommended it to you already?

  10. I think you can definitely reach a limit of following rules, because they have a tendency to become overbearing. But another great post making me think 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  11. When my daughter was little, I always told her she needed to follow the rules and learn them well so that she would then know now to break them, go around them, over them, under them, through them, or whatever served her best at that juncture. I still think so: learn the rules well, then do what’s right. xoxoM

  12. Rules are too often created by those who are served by them. Confining to the rest.

    Otherwise, what may be created to serve the multitude can all too often be misused or turned into a weapon of judgement.

    Personally, I think that all we really have is the evolution of our own conscience.

    Good post. Thought provoking. Glad I stopped by. 🙂 Back to the loonybin.

    • glad you stopped by and I think your first sentence is very astute–in fact the whole comment is-thanks

  13. Love the Edison quote! I might have to use that one soon! ~ Sheila

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