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.

As Expected: The Halloween Column

  By now, you know the ritual–this is my weekly newspaper column:

                One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
              One need not be a house;
              The brain has corridors surpassing
              Material place. ~  Emily Dickinson


Haunted House

Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

  There is a rhythm to life. Expectations that must be met. If you are a columnist and it is the last week in golden October then you just naturally turn to the subject of Halloween. And you remember your love/hate relationship with the celebration of the dark night of the soul, or as I prefer to think of it—the night of endless chocolate, chewy caramels, and remembrances of homemade popcorn balls and chocolate chip cookies packaged prettily in cellophane.

        Again, against my better judgement, I bought one of those boxes of chocolate bars that I am particularly fond of—a combo of Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini O’Henry chocolate bars, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars with peanuts. I have now pretty well emptied the box, having shared only a few of the treats with my husband (lest you think I am mean, he is diabetic after all-don’t want to kill the guy!) so I have had to purchase more candy. I was careful this time to buy candy that does not speak to my sweet tooth but will still pass muster with the few kids destined to show up at my house on Thursday night.


English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

 Candy corn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of trick or treaters have dwindled over the years—as my sons grew older, so did their friends, and no one seems to be replacing that crew at my door—something that is both a relief and disappointment. I remember fondly the days of excitement leading up to the grand day of chocolate and all things sweet—the costumes and smeary grease paint, the adventure of walking out the door knowing we would come home with a bounty of cavity causing booty, my sneaky swiping of my favourite chocolate bars from my sons’ cache bagged unceremoniously in pillow cases. Ah—the good old days!

        Halloween has become big business. So much so that it seems to rival Christmas in our affections. I guess the ‘shadow’ side of life needs to be given its moment in the sun, and this weekend The National Post took the whole Halloween, death, and dying thing for a spin—making death the cornerstone of many of their articles, opinion pieces, and columns. I read a bit of it and was left feeling overexposed to the subject and a little bit creeped out. Do I really want to know that Marilyn Monroe’s last meal consisted of stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and Dom Perignon, or that Cleopatra noshed on figs before meeting her demise?

        One section of the paper was devoted to “The Look of Death”, touting black as the new black; another section was called “13 Spectral Street” contemplating the scariest address in town; a third section shouted “How We Die Now” and elucidated on “the new ways we deal with death.” And, not to be left out, the financial section headline was “Death and Money.” Usually the National Post is my favourite weekend paper, but not so this weekend. I lightly perused its pages, alighting carefully on articles that were not too gruesome, but in truth, skipped most of its content. Even Rex Murphy, who I find eloquently toothsome in his descriptions, was a disappointment with his wish at the end of his column that everyone have a “happy, grey, grim Halloween”. Death, a topic possibly ripe for Halloween was overdone in this edition. The paper is now in the recycle pile—none of it saved for further study or rereading.

        I am a fan of the Halloween that produces fairies and Cinderellas, dinosaurs and robots. Not for me the monsters, or skeletons, and if the ghost is Casper, then I am okay with that. The macabre does not fascinate me; death does not beguile me; tombstones are not the delight of my décor. Inexplicably I do have a soft spot in my heart for witches and wizards, probably as a result of being brought up on the television program “Bewitched” with enchanting Samantha and her charming nose twitch (something I practiced a lot as a kid to no avail.)

        So, in opposition to Rex’s desire that you have a grim Halloween, I wish you as many trick or treaters at your door as you desire, chocolate dreams, and caramel apple wishes.

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm  Comments (35)  
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“I” ~ Or the Luxury of Using I

self-esteem, groups and hate

self-esteem, groups and hate (Photo credit: Will Lion)

“I” seemed to be the most banned pronoun in the English language when I went to school. We were never allowed to insert ourselves into our essays or papers—but we were always supposed to show original thought. So many times I was stymied at how to show original thought in a way that did not use “I”.

Except for that first day back at school assignment I received from grade two to grade eight: “Write about what you did on your summer vacation”—we were not given much opportunity to express ourselves using the word “I”. No wonder we had self-esteem issues, though when I was in school self-esteem was not a subject of concern. And today it seems to be a catch-all that is used for a myriad of problems that probably have nothing to do with self-esteem at all.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy writing a weekly newspaper column is that I get to use “I” whenever the heck I want to. In fact, I have noticed that it is the more personal columns and posts on this blog that I write that get the most comments.  I like to read about other people and their experiences and how they handled something—and like everyone else, I like to relate to the writer.

Here are a few famous “I”s:

“I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments.”
Jim Morrison

“I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.”
Marilyn Monroe

“I trust no one, not even myself.”
Joseph Stalin

“I’m OK with myself, with history, my work, who I am and who I was.”
Sidney Poitier

“Without ‘I’, we would neither know ourselves or others.” ~ Me