Mutual exclusivity is at the heart of some of the most difficult choices we face in life. Or so it seems to me. And why? Because of rules. Apparently we can't have our cake and eat it too. That's the rule.

Up until a couple of years ago I never questioned the direction in which my moral compass pointed. I trusted that I would know right from wrong and mostly do right as a result of this knowledge.

Mostly. No one is perfect.

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you were doing wrong even when it felt completely right? It's like being turned inside out. Stuff you barely knew you were suppressing inside yourself becomes visible. By demanding consideration this has the potential to be life changing. If you let it.

But it doesn't have to be. It can be that I know these things and yet still choose not to act upon them. I could follow the rules. Like I usually do (mostly).

Rules are important. Without them we have chaos. Chaos is bad. Right? Maybe it's only some kinds of chaos that are bad. Maybe I think it's bad because of my past. I haven't re-evaluated my assumptions about chaos since they were first formed. Maybe bad is meaningless. A simple construct formed for simple minds like mine. Or maybe chaos is good.

Chaotic behaviour scares me. Especially my own.

Rules have helped keep me safe. If I can just work out what they are then I can follow them. If I follow them well enough then I steer clear of the worst kinds of trouble. Right? I can see how infantile that thought process is. I recognise the girl who thought that ... who thinks that still.

Rules are my magnetic north pole. Everything makes at least some kind of sense to me if I know enough about the rules. Without them I am not sure ... of anything.

The funny thing about breaking things down so you can think about them in isolation is that in so doing you take at least some of the rules out of the equation altogether. It's not like I don't understand that. But putting the pieces back together involves seeing them in context ... as a whole. How do you do that without rules? Is there meaning without rules?

If I break the rules ...

It's like this brick wall in my mind slams against that thought. Almost everything in me wants to stick to the rules.

Except my heart.

Unless we re-evaluate things then we will carry on thinking of them in the same way we always did.

Enough thinking for today I think.

Except to say this. I am richly blessed in my blogging friends. It is clear to me that individually you have wisdom beyond my imagining. Taken collectively it is quite extraordinary. I so appreciate those of you who take the time to read and comment. The help this has given me defies description.

Thank you. xx Jos


  1. as someone who makes her living interpreting rules, it seems to me that there is usually more than one way of reading them. otherwise there would be no lawyers...

    i have no doubt that you will settle on a morality that works for you. i find it really important to have a framework that guides my decision-making so i very much identify with what you have written about how scary chaos can be. i suppose the trick is to keep the moral framework under review and get your spanner out when it needs a bit of adjustment.

  2. It has helped me to run away for a time. The circular pattern of my mind is unwinding itself and allowing new thoughts as yet unconsidered. We are able to look with new eyes from a new perspective. My heart is with you Citrus.

    For you

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I took an IQ test once and apparently, I'm very good at recognizing patterns, except in my own life. I grew up in chaos, I never knew what would make my father angry, one day it would be one thing, another day, something else. I think that's when I started looking for patterns. And I have a deep addiction to rules, which I also break on a regular basis, but I'm learning to be okay with that. It's complicated I've decided. Life is complicated, people, OMG people are complicated. I'm learning that I can hold opposite beliefs at the same time and not explode. Who knew?

    I don't think there are right or wrong answers. What works at a certain time, may or may not work again later on. It depends. Everything changes all the time and that's what's been so hard for me, accepting all the changes as natural and normal. Sigh.

    I'm blathering on now. Take care.

  5. Hi Jos, i'm going to wade in here. I think rules are a construct. Being married to a japanese person living in australia, myself growing up in england, i've learnt many rules are transient. I've learnt this in my studies of sociology and anthropology also. My wife's construct of guilt is far different to mine. But then again, as a western person we have certain rules woven into the tapestry of society, many of these come from religion which Marx thinks is a construct of the human condition to understand the world around us. Japanese culture therefore has something such as obligation as a construct. Anyway, Jos, the rules are there, but the rules of the heart can conflict with that, i think you are somewhere there. I would follow your heart with this one, therefore you will be being true to yourself, and set yourself free. I only partly know how i got to this point. Paul

  6. jos, i broke the rules, i broke my heart, i broke my passion and my purpose wide open, and although i have some regrets, following my true self is not one of them.

    nothing happens in a vacuum. to me, to come alive is as much a responsibility as it is a privilege.

    ps i love your writing these days. it is just beautiful.


  7. Jos, this post makes my head spin :-). I don't like rules so much. I am used to chaos, I grew up with it, but I don't like it. This is what I came up with early on, rules are only good if you make them up yourself and then have the right to change them anytime you want :-). You cannot follw the rules other people make up, it just does not work, then I believe you have real chaos. Follow your heart dear Jos. That can NEVER be wrong. xoxo