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Rules are good, they CONTROL the fun.

I love Sundays.

It’s the one morning of the week where I don’t have to workout, there’s no school or work, and no football matches or training to be taxi for so I often have the freedom to chill all day if I want to.

Also every couple of weeks I don’t even have to parent (not in the tangible sense anyway). One of the bonuses of being from a “broken” (god I hate that word) family means that the lucky amongst us get every other weekend (or some other prearranged length of time) to ourselves to relax, regroup and refresh. This I think provides the kids AND the parents with an element of balance that other people maybe miss out on. The kids get one on one time with each parent, and each parent gets time to (among other things) get pissed to the point of blackout, have questionable sexual encounters and lose an entire Sunday to apocalyptic hangover diarrhea, or, watch an inspiring movie, do yoga and make a vision board for a better future (all of which I’ve done at one time or another). Either way, its a great time to question our life choices, which is never a bad thing.

This “freedom”, for those of us that get it, gives us balance and the opportunity to just be ourselves, not fulfil the ever present role of “parent” with all its overwhelming responsibility and all encompassing weight. But, it’s not just single co-parents that get this benefit. Because even those parents that aren’t afforded the luxury of shared custody, or those who aren’t parents but are navigating through other heavy adulting responsibilities, can still I’m sure, appreciate the freedom of a relaxed Sunday or any day or time when we don’t have to bear the burden of calendared events or essential chores. But, think about it, why do we appreciate Sundays so much?

I know that if I didn’t have all the other crap to deal with during the week, I wouldn’t appreciate the freedom and weightlessness of Sunday. I think lockdown was a perfect example of this, both in the sense that it provided many of us with freedom from our day to day lives, but also, when restrictions were lifted, we could truly and joyously appreciate being allowed to go out.

Without walls we can’t truly appreciate freedom.

When you apply this thinking to all areas of your life, things that once seemed like a burden, a too forceful restriction, or an inconvenience suddenly become positive, simply because they provide relief or joy when they’re not there. And I think as a society we often focus too much on the restriction, and the rights and wrongs of those doling out the restrictions, and not on all the ways that we are lucky enough NOT to be restricted in so many ways.

My office looks out over a popular walking route which leads to a park. I spend at least 86% of my working day looking out at dog walkers, ramblers or families juggling buggies, picnics and cricket sets. Despite its popularity, it’s quiet enough that it’s not unusual for half an hour or so to pass and I don’t see a soul. Usually. But that all changed as soon as lockdown was announced. Suddenly it was like everyone in the country was doing their Duke of Edinburgh award right outside my house, or making an episode of Countryfile. It’s not that more people got dogs or had kids that needed to go to the park, it was that people that usually barely left their sofa were now making the most of their freedom, they recognised that they were lucky to get to go out once a day so they bloody well used it. 

The relief of removing a face mask, the joy of a diet cheat day, the pleasure of your two week summer holiday, all of these wouldn’t be possible without the initial rule or restriction from which we get relief.

Now, I’m not a fucking fascist. I do realise that the benefits of rules largely depends on the person making them, and that some societies and individuals are subject to rules and restrictions that are unjust, wrong, unfair and/or downright hideous. I’m not commenting on those and I’m certainly not arguing for a world with more rules. What I’m asking is that those of us who largely live a privileged existence occasionally flip their thinking to recognise that not only are rules often necessary to protect, organise or control, they also provide us with that relief when restrictions are lifted, an opportunity to count our blessings, which is always a good thing.

I discovered a love of rules many years ago. I like being contained otherwise I’m wont to go all over the place. Unbidden and wild I quickly go off track, and I honestly believe without some of my own self-prescribed rules I’d probably be dead by now. Or at least in a much shitter position in life.

The very best rules are those we make for ourselves. They are our morals and our principles which keep us accountable, or the rules we create to facilitate personal change or growth (I will workout every day, I will study harder, I will be nice to my boss etc).

We are living in a time of necessary restrictions which are an attempt to save lives and actually preserve the freedom we currently have. But I honestly think that some people just hear the word “rules” or “restrictions” and instantly freak out on principle, “How dare they take our freedom”, “I’m not sticking to that, they can’t tell me what to do”, “fascist wankers” etc. But if these people just took a considered step back to weigh up the pros and cons of the rules, AND included the sheer relief we’ll all feel when the restrictions are lifted, they’d not be so angry.

From the little reliefs, like coming out of the shop and removing our masks, to the massive ones, like when we can all hug freely again, we should learn to appreciate these times in the same way that we all love a Sunday, and we’d all be happier.

If we focus on the good stuff around restrictions rather than on the restriction itself we will get through this. Remember that we all have the freedom to create our own rules to drive us to design the life we want and deserve. Put simply rules er… rule.

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