About “the Rules”

About “the Rules”

At my piano lesson this week, we added a piece that introduces use of the pedal. My teacher said in passing, ‘I’m sure you’ve messed around with the pedal at home.’ And with that one phrase, the universe stopped. 

“No. No, I do not mess around with the pedal. I grew up with pianos in our homes and it was one of the rules. My mother could handle us playing around on the keyboard to a certain extent, but magnifying it with the pedal was where her last nerve lived. So we grew up ‘leaving the pedal alone’.”

I find myself chuckling with how one comment from my teacher transformed me into an eight year old with her feet dangling from a piano bench somewhere in Maine. As a father himself, he understood my mom’s boundary –  and gave my 50year old self full permission to play around with the pedals on my piano. 

Rules are funny. In the context of a game or group project, they set the goal and expectations. Within a family, they keep people safe and create a culture. 

We are most often aware of rules when we are new learners – drivers education, a board game, a new way of cooking. Most of the time, rules become incorporated into daily life until someone says ‘why do we have this rule’. It takes a lot of strength to hear that question  and to receive it as a question and not a challenge.

Last week, I opened the cupboard to retrieve my coffee mug and a skeleton sat there waving at me. Thanking my daughter for the giggle it gave me, she was relieved I liked it. She was  worried I might be upset because of my ‘no skeletons rule’. 

When was the last time you examined the rules you carry. Not the speed limit like rules – but the ones you have crafted around your private life.  Do you throw clothes on the floor? Or make your bed every morning? Or leave dishes in the sink? Do you expect yourself to socially interact at certain times or with certain people? What about health rules? 

My newest personal rule – I’m not allowed to hold my phone when I am in bed. This compromise came on a cool morning as I luxuriated in the warmth and weight of my blankets. Mentally preparing for the day, I reached for my phone ‘just to check….’ But I know Me. ‘Just to check’ thumbs end up wandering social media mazes where time is lost forever. 

Balancing that clarity with the joy of that warm morning stretch in solitude, led to the accommodation –  I’m allowed to stay under my covers in the dark warm quiet of the morning for as long as I want – but I may not have my phone in my hands while I am there. 

With this new rule, I’m still practicing and failing and beginning again.  

What about your rules? Are they still serving you? When was the last time you checked?