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.