Functionally Impossible

Let’s talk about rules some more. I’m in kind of a funny mood. Very swear-y, very bellicose, very prone to displays of affection.  Like I said, weird.

First of all, I’d like to point out that the majority of rules you follow are self-imposed. Call them a personal code, self-imposed limitations, call it, going along to get along.

Don’t kid yourself. You participated in writing the script.

In the same way that one child of an alcoholic grows up to abuse alcohol as well, and the other becomes a teetotaller, at the base of every set of circumstances is an element of personal choice.

People don’t respect you? Really.

Your life is a struggle? Huh.

No matter how hard you try, you can never overcome your past? Is that right?

Ok. Breathe.

It’s all okay. I’m not blaming you. I love you.

Listen. Much as we’re all wired to take credit for the good things that happen and blame the bad stuff on our circumstances, the fact of the matter is, the only thing in this whole motherfucking world that you have any goddamn control over is yourself.

Every time you say, “It was out of my hands,” or “I couldn’t help it.” you give away what precious little power you have.

That’s why we love our stories about hard-bitten cowboys, swash-buckling pirates, and honourable warriors. We revere them. We idealize them. Here I am, too, telling you to go be all heroic and go live life on your terms.

But sweethearts, you have to remember, living life to a codified standard is functionally impossible.

That’s where the part about breaking rules comes in.

Let’s say you believe in, for simplicity’s sake, keeping your word. Now, I strongly feel that simply as a matter of prudence, underpromise and overdeliver, but lets say even that fails you. Lets say you’re forced to break your word.

What are you going to do now?

Commit seppuku?

This is where a lot of people get bogged down. They tend to believe that, having failed in the standards they’ve set for themselves they are worthless human beings and worse still, hypocrites.

You see this every January after the New Year’s resolutions falter. You see it every time someone breaks a promise to themselves (because society doesn’t punish you for breaking promises to yourself). What happens next? Denial. You tell yourself you didn’t really mean it; it wasn’t your fault; it didn’t matter.

Let’s all be big girls and boys here:

It mattered, didn’t it?

You thought less of yourself.

It crushed a little part of you that looks for people it can depend on, didn’t it?

It kills you to know there’s no one you can depend on — not even yourself.

Dear hearts, no one is perfect.

Even the best people fall down sometimes.

But you know what makes people get back up, and try again, and heartens them against weakness and despair?


Love, my precious.

Love yourself, and you will be strong. Love yourself, and you will work to stay worthy of it. You will grow to be dependable to yourself, and on the rare, vanishingly rare occasions when you fall down, you will know you did your absolute, straight up, level best—for the one who loves you most.

I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

— Tao Te Ching


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