Inside: Why some rules are worth following, why other rules are worth breaking, and how to know the difference in our lives and careers.
The year – 1997.
The players – 8 13-year-old girls with butterfly clips and minimal dance training.
Our major predicament – the carefully recorded off the radio tape of Coolio’s 1,2,3,4 had been left in a locker and it was now Saturday.
How, oh HOW would we prepare for the lip sync world championships without it? Our choreo needed a lot of work. As did our believability as rappers encouraging you to get your woman on the floor.
90s Problems Call for 90s Solutions
So we did what any 90s kids would do. Got a blank tape, called the radio station with our request, and sat in front of the boom box for three hours.
I think JAM’N 9.45 is just NOW getting to our request.
But the 8 of us tried to make the best of the situation and danced around anyways to the choreography we remembered. Then the party and the boom box were moved onto the front lawn from the basement because God forbid we deprive our neighbors of our sweet, sweet moves.
Then it started to quite literally rain on our parade.
Instead of running inside, the group of us girls decided to embrace the early summer shower and take our show on the road. We marched down the side streets singing Coolio, splashing in puddles, laughing until our cheeks hurt, and getting soaked to our souls.
At that moment in my life I couldn’t think of a time I had ever been happier.
Being Boring in the Rain
Flash forward 22 years (ermagod… 22 years?) and technology has changed, and so have I.
Now if I need to hear Coolio, or more likely the singer songwriter vibes of Ben Rector, I can get on YouTube, or Pandora, or even pay a buck to own the song forever. But I kind of miss the boom box days. We were patient as all get up then. What our lives lacked in instant gratification, they overcompensated with creativity.
And to be honest, I’m much less likely to dance in the rain now.
It’s probably an over reliance on the rules. Particularly since becoming a parent and feeling like I need a sense of control over this house full of chaos.
Some of our rules are pretty good.
- “We don’t bring toys to the table.”
- “We don’t feed our dinner to the dog.”
- “We don’t lasso our sister.”
But some of our other rules are kind of dumb.
- “We don’t have dessert during the week.” (Hypocritical)
- “We don’t wear underwear over our pants.” (They aren’t hurting anyone.)
- “We don’t go outside in the rain.” (Why?)
Seriously why? I don’t know. We might melt? We might get water on the floors that could honestly use a good mopping anyways?
Rule Breaking in the Rain
One of my favorite podcasters, bloggers, and professional development go tos, Ruth Soukup from Do It Scared, is known for her saying “Rules are for suckers.”
The first time I heard this I clutched my pearls. She has kids, who she also teaches this concept to. I didn’t get it AT ALL and was picturing pure chaos. As opposed to my house, which is made of up 75% imitation flavor chaos.
But here’s what she is getting at. Question the status quo. Question why we don’t do things a certain way, and what would happen if we didn’t?
There are rules that keep us safe, and rules that keep us healthy, but there are also a multitude of rules that are red tape for creativity and keep us coloring inside the lines. Those rules are for suckers. Question them, break them, pave your own way. I can dig that.
Laughing in the Rain
So this past weekend, with Ruth and Coolio in my head, I told two little kids hesitating by the screen door to go ahead and run on out into the rain. They happily RSVPed to the invitation and sprinted circles around the deck. It took me a few minutes to join them, because I don’t know, we don’t get our jeans that are already covered in dirt, sand, and chocolate wet?? But eventually I was out there too. Glen was shortly behind me,
The rain felt good. Really good. It was a perfect refreshing summer rain that brought me quickly back to splashing through puddles and singing at the top of my lungs in 1997. But then I was just as quickly transported back to the here and now.
The four of us played tag, caught rain drops on our tongues, and “flew to the clouds.” We tickled, and belly laughed, and danced around with reckless abandon. (I mean not entirely reckless, we still don’t stand on the deck railing. #goodrule.) Man, what we would have missed if we had followed the rules…
Know When to Hold ‘Em, Know When to Break ‘Em
This is all to say that I hope you’ll figure out the rules that make sense to you and follow those, while also finding out what rules don’t make sense anymore.
Some good rules – Treat others fairly. Don’t cheat to win. Eat your green vegetables.
Some not so good rules – You have to work in the field you went to college for. To be successful you need to work 16 hour days. Keep quiet if you’re not as experienced as the other people around the table.
You see how they are different? One set of rules is about health, safety, and fairness. One set of rules is basically nothing. It’s made up. Like a rule that says you shouldn’t go running outside into the rain.
Those rules? They were meant to be broken.