How often do we hear every day to: “Live life by your own rules!” only to hear everyone else tell you to live by everyone else’s rules so you don’t rock the boat, and then scoff at you should you actually create rules to live by. Instead, it sounds more like an excuse merely to ignore the rules now in place and act a fool. But like all wise words, they’re only wise if you actually employ them. So, in hopes I might actually get this right, here’s a few rules I’m learning to live by and embrace as I get older. If you’ve been my friend for any period of time, you probably already know these by heart. But since I’m nothing if not repetitive, here we go again.
Don’t apologize without having done something wrong.
“I’m sorry” is not an acceptable answer around me when you’re sad something occurs. You’re probably sick of me getting onto you for saying “sorry.” Granted, “sorry” is a common colloquialism, but just because everyone else is saying it doesn’t make it right to say! If you’re sorry, it better be because YOU did something wrong. Otherwise, why are you unworthy? The dictionary might define (as in, it actually does) as Sorry. adj. Feeling distress, esp. through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune, but I disagree with its use. It’s like the dictionary capitulated to everyone’s misuse of what sorry really means. “Sorry” is a devalued state of being. I don’t accept the concept that anyone should embrace a devalued state of being on anyone else’s behalf. Sympathize with me all you like. Be sad for my condition. But never devalue yourself, and never apologize for something you haven’t done wrong. Is this one of my nit-pickies? Yes. Am I going to change it? No.
Speak and be heard! Strike out so others might listen! If you have nothing to say, don’t conjure merely to say it, but if you do, speak! Exercise your voice! Share the truth and make sure everyone else around you knows it! If your truth comes up wrong, correct yourself, and embrace the next truth you find. I’ve said before that it’s better to be right than right. The first kind of right is to actually embrace the truth. The second right is the self-serving and arrogant. I don’t want to be “right” just so everyone else is wrong. I want to be right, whether we all agree or not! And if we aren’t out there repeating the truth so that all may know it, our children will grow up thinking socialism is a good thing! Kings are wonderful! Slavery is acceptable.
Ironically, the great balance is knowing when to shut the hell up. This is one balance I’m learning, myself. But knowing when to shut up has nothing to do with fearing to be wrong or about voicing the truth, but when silence is more powerful than sound. There are times to be quiet, to give a place for the heart-wrenting laments of friends who just need to be heard themselves in the midst of pain. To be quiet when fools sew the seeds to their own destruction. To listen to wisdom when it comes, and to hear the stillness of the world without your voice always bouncing back. Be bold when you must be bold, but never fear it.
Life will not end because you made a mistake, and wishing you had done differently will do nothing to change present circumstances. Instead, accept the past for what it is, learn your lesson, and change so that tomorrow may never see the same mistake you made yesterday. Sometimes it hurts to think about poor decisions made in the past, but hoping to change it is a chasing after the wind. I don’t imply this is easy, as sometimes I have the want to go back and change things I cannot change, but knowing the truth is the first step in pursuing its benefits. So let go of regret and the pain that goes with it, and accept that your past is what it is, and has made you the person you are today! If it has brought you pain and suffering, assess yourself and determine what you must fix in order to be happy. Get counseling, do away with fear and doubt, love yourself. If it has made you stronger through difficult times, be grateful that you are stronger today than you were before! It doesn’t make life easy, but who ever said it was supposed to be?
Life is change. Nothing is stable but change, itself. Learn to embrace change and you will learn how to navigate life with less pain, less drama and more peace. Stop fearing what is inevitable, and if you think it isn’t, just wait a bit. It’s easy to be proven right on this point.
Pity no unwarranted emotion
Emotions are the results of something on the inside. Emotions have no substance. They might indicate an event of substance occurring inside of you, but the emotions, themselves, have no warranted meaning. It does not mean they have no value. Emotions are the waves upon the sea, and you must still ride them, but you must learn which waves you can ride and which you must dive through to the other side. (Surfing reference). Sometimes we must cry for our losses, steel ourselves to hard times, to rejoice in the good, to weep with satisfaction in the midst of other pain. We cannot run from emotions, and I’ll be honest, I have run from emotion. I have used addiction and a lack of self denial to hide from feelings I fear. I will never tell you to do something because I think I have it licked. I tell you because I believe that’s the answer, even if I struggle, myself, in achieving it.
I pity no unwarranted emotion. I don’t appreciate people feeling sorry for themselves, even if I sometimes fall prey to it. I don’t like it when people lament other’s failings more than sympathy calls for, because every man is ultimately responsible for himself. I would lament should a brother or cousin fall victim to some terrible calamity or addiction. I can sympathize. But I won’t cling to that pain on some broken noble notion that feeling sorry somehow improves their situation or mine. Nor will I pity the young girl hopelessly in love with the douchebag. I don’t pity the dumbass unwarranted hope a girl will love him without him needing to change his habits and methodologies. I don’t pity anyone but the ones truly worth it, the ones who have no control over their lives and are drowned to pits of humanity. I will pity them, for they indeed warrant their tears and broken hearts.
But for you, dear suburban 16-year-old who thinks mommy and daddy hate you for not getting you a car on your birthday, I pity you not.
But stop apologizing for living! For trying! For doing! Until you actually commit a grievance, stop living like you have! Act, move and be, but stop being sorry!
I probably have a few more I could draw to mind, but this is what I have for now. And it doesn’t matter as much what I believe, but what you believe! Choose for yourself what rules you will live by and exercise them! Take care of yourself, be responsible, choose through your rules how you will take care of others and improve your community. Don’t let others dictate how you should live your life. I encourage you to find faith, love your God and love others as yourself, but how you do that? That’s up to you.