Making the Rules

Climbed out of bed , fed the kitties, and sneaked off to the trails early this morning.

I knew it was a cloudy day, even though I couldn’t really see anything in the dark. But I got to the reserve about a half hour before sunrise anyway.

Normally if I am getting somewhere that early, it is to capture a sunrise, but without one on the cards it was really the naturalist in me that had me out there at that time.

I knew that I wasn’t really going to get much photo-wise but I wanted to feel the early morning energy. Anyone who has done this will know that there is a life that awakens with each day, as day-creatures emerge from their sleep and step forward into their day.

When I started out on foot I could hear hundreds of whistling ducks create a morning chorus that beats out any human composition.

And in the dim distance, I could see three or four Osprey circle out over the lake and return with their breakfast.

Initially I tried to shoot them, but the grey dim morning covered by the deep clouds made a mockery of any such attempt. So I put my camera away for a while and just walked.

It was really invigorating and by the time it did get bright enough to take some shots, I was half way around the trail and walking with a pep in my step.

I did get a few soft images to share and I have bundled them at the end of this blog with five unused images from last week. I hope you enjoy!

Funny thing was, as I sat back into my car and asked myself if I had anything worth sharing in this week’s blog, my first reaction was framed by the “rule” that I could only use today’s images.

I realized quickly that this “rule” was not just ridiculous, but that I was the one that made it! Initially I think I came up with that rule based on a desire to keep it fresh and also to make sure that I am regularly going out to take new pics rather than resting on past laurels.

But the whole notion of making an arbitrary rule and then trying to force yourself into adhering to it, left me laughing at my own insanity. It just makes absolutely no sense.

And so, my whole drive home there was a debate raging inside my head with rules and why we live our lives by them.

Rules are initially dreamed up by someone and then agreed to possibly by a number of people, and then we try diligently to follow them.

But in general, these rules are neither natural or, in most cases, universal.

So really, rules are just a sham. I remember growing up in Ireland to where the rule was that you couldn’t eat meat on a Friday (it was an old catholic thing). What idiot dreamed that one up and why did millions of people try to follow it?

Then there were rules that blended into laws that said you get married, you stay married. Divorce was outlawed in Ireland until 1996. So tough shit if you married an abuser or a battle-ax … they were all yours for as long as you both shall live!

Then there are rules that we all break routinely … speed limits on roads. Or having to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. even if you are the only car on the road and it’s three in the morning! I mean seriously … what an idiotic rule!

Rules exist all around us. They attempt to get citizens to conform to a general level of behavior. And to a certain degree they do.

But rules from a country living under Sharia Law are wildly different to a Western Democracy, which in turn is wildly different to a dictatorship. And god forbid you live under a Lèse-majesté system where it is treason to say something that might insult the king! (Cambodia and Thailand practice that degree of idiocy).

So, while we adhere to many of the general rules around us, it is important to understand that in the main, they are ridiculous and sometimes overbearing. We may need to comply in order to live among other humans so we just have to grin and bear it.

But why do we put rules on ourselves? I would call these private rules.

My Mom and Dad had a drinking rule that would only allow them to drink alcohol after nine o’clock at night. So at 8:45 the ice bucket, glasses and bottles were gathered and maybe even the can of coke was popped and ready to pour into the whiskey. But no lips touched the glass before nine!

While we may smile at such a rule, we each saddle ourselves with rules of our own every day. It might be related to when we shower or go to the bathroom, or the time we go to bed. Or it may be that we can’t snack between mealtimes, or god forbid, we eat dinner an hour early because we are hungry. No, we must wait!

We might use rules that limit what we say out loud. Or even stop us from saying anything on a certain subject. “You can’t say that to him …. he’s a customer!”

One of my favorite people on the planet is a friend of mine back in Ireland who is a priest and yet uses the F word (“fuck” for all you who don’t know what I am taking about) more than I do and is the first to tell you that most of religion is pure bullshit.

In his chosen life structure he is surrounded by more rules than most of us, yet he cares not!

Yes, there are times when conforming is appropriate. Farting in an elevator is never the right thing to do.

But being an outlaw with respect to rules that are just foolish is absolutely appropriate too.

Blindly accepting that you can’t eat meat on a Friday is frankly ridiculous.

I remember standing at a deli counter in Ireland in 2000 on Good Friday and when I asked for a corned beef sandwich some righteous voice in the crowd behind me called out “Pagan”. As I turned around, I glared at silence because they shut their mouth when faced with my obvious ire.

And I guess this is the final point about rules that I want to make. Most of these idiotic rules can’t stand the glare of logic. They get created in dark rooms by people with hidden agendas and then forced on the rest of us.

When faced with these we should shine a bright light firmly on them and question them. And then we should ignore them.

Go ahead … break some stupid rules this week. It is liberating.

That was probably the best-tasting corned beef sandwich I had ever eaten!

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