Who Makes Your Rules?

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By Suzanne Reisler Litwin

Not too long ago I attended a dinner with some close friends.  We were talking about the regular stuff.  Our family, our problems, our concerns, really complaining and the stage of life we are currently in.  The waiter came by to take our food order.  At this point, the complications of our lives were exposed.  I have many food allergies, so I have to be careful with the foods I chose to eat.  No raw onions, garlic, leaves, or pineapple for me.  I need to be able to see what I eat so as to not eat any of the mentioned foods.

Another friend is vegan and lives by those dietary choices.  Another friend is lactose intolerant.  Another friend won’t eat fat or carbs.  Another friend rather drink fluids instead of eating solid foods. She picks at her food so she doesn’t order much.  Another friend is a picky eater and questions the preparation of all foods, except for those she prepares herself.  Initially, it was almost impossible to find a restaurant which everyone can find something to eat or not to eat.

This got me thinking about the rules we live by and the rules we choose to live by.  It’s sort of important to live by the rules and laws of the land.  You don’t want to drive through a red light as you will break a driving law, be fined and potentially hurt someone.   You don’t want to purposely steal things as you will break a law and go to jail.  These rules and laws of society are in place to keep the peace and maintain that people live within a civilized society.  I purposely try to live by those societal governmental rules and laws.   I also encourage my children to be law abiding citizens.

The other rules I question.  The rules which we make up for ourselves.  As I get older, I’ve noticed that people live by many rules they make up for themselves.  Obviously, some rules are useful as in; I won’t eat chocolate after 7 pm as it keeps me up at night.  Or, I won’t exercise too early in the morning because it makes me nauseous.  Here’s one more, I won’t drive at night because I don’t see that well in the dark.  These are all useful rules to live by.  The other kind of rules I question and wonder about.  Here are some rules I’ve overheard which are particular.  I won’t eat anything that’s white.  For example, bread, sugar, dairy, egg whites and white rice.  Does this mean you won’t eat a MARSHMELLOW?  I guess not because it’s sugar and white!   Here’s another one, I eat the same thing every day this way I control my daily calories and I won’t gain weight.  That’s such a boring rule.  How do you live in a food city like Montreal and not go crazy?

Another rule I heard is, I will only exercise every second day.  My question here is what happens when you miss a day?  Do you start the next day and go every second day until you miss a day again?  What happens if you get really tired? Do you allow your body to rest or push through to keep up with the rule?

Here’s another one, I only wash my hair on Tuesdays.  Because… the other days of the week are bad?

I find there are already too many rules to live by in our current society.  Why would anyone want to invent more personal rules to live by?

My rules are meant to be broken.  I will live by the rules and laws of our land, but that’s where it ends.  Am I unruly?  Sometimes I am.  As long as I don’t hurt anyone or anything, I’m ok. I’m not a rule maker.  I’m more a rule questioner.  I wonder why people make up so many more rules which are self-imposed.

Why take the open box you are given and close it on so many sides?

It seems everything is so scheduled and controlled already.  Time does this.  You have the days, weeks, months, years, hours, minutes, and seconds all controlling you.  However, you rarely know when all those measurements will come to end.  Throw in the rules of the land we live by and throw in the rules you make up for yourself… how much freedom do you really have in life? How much free movement in time do you really have, considering we never know when our time is up?

Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to eat the chocolate after 7 pm or the white marshmallow or wash your hair on a Thursday?  How’s about just being free within you?

Who makes or breaks your rules? Do you?

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Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West Island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.

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