Life Lesson #2 From Camel’s Hump


#2      Sometimes, we just need to follow the rules.


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An unexpected list of rules greeted me as I made my way to the summit. I was glad to know them.


Rules make life simple. That’s their upside and their downside.


Rules take the decision-making responsibility away from us. In some cases, they remove that sense of personal responsibility for our behavior. They are, after all, set by those who know more than we do.






But not always; hence our own ability to be rule-breakers. I pride myself on being a rule breaker, at least being willing to be a rule breaker. When the situation calls for it.


And other times, I’m grateful to know what’s expected of me, what behavior will keep me safe, what the rules are. As I said, it just makes life simpler.


Last month, after this post had been written, Laurie Buchanan posted Rules Are Meant to Be Broken on her blog, asking, “when do rules apply to you?”   I recommend it and the Comments that followed, if you have the time.


How about you? What’s your position on rules? 


[learn_more caption=”Did you miss the earlier posts in this series?  If so, here are the links:”]

#13    When the going gets tough, each step is of equal importance.

#12    Sometimes, perseverence is more important than having fun.

#11    Sometimes, there is no single, absolutely right place to put your foot.

#10   Sometimes, when we try to follow the signs, it ends in disaster.

#9     Sometimes, the path we need to take doesn’t look like a path at all.

#8     Sometimes, we just have to stop and listen.

#7     Sometimes, we just have to stop and stare at the view.

#6     Sometimes, it’s nice to have a reminder that we’re going in the right direction.

#5     Sometimes, it doesn’t matter which way we go.

#4     Sometimes, when we think we’re in it alone, it’s good to remember that others have gone before.

#3     Seen in the distance, problems sometimes appear larger and more ominous. But as we move closer, the solution appears.



12 Responses

  1. Ian Mathie
    | Reply

    Rules are made for the guidance of the wise and the absolute obedience of idiots and the incompetent!

    Follow this principle in life and you won’t go far wrong. At the same time it leaves you latitude for a lot of fun and exciting experience because some rules are designed to be broken. 🙂

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I don’t know, Ian. At the point when I came upon that unexpected list, I was pretty grateful for it. Not yet convinced that made me an idiot. 🙂

      I’m curious to know what rules you follow. Traffic rules? Social mores? How do you choose which ones to follow and which, not?

      • Ian Mathie
        | Reply

        Rules need to have meaning and purpose. If those are not evident I am less inclined to follow the rules. The fact that my actions sometimes take me in the direction the rules point is, in such cases, purely coincidental.
        Guidance that has been demonstrated by others to work is more likely to be followed than untested rules, particularly if they seem, as so many do, to be daft.

        I realised many years ago that following rules at school was supposed to teach you to conform, but who the heck wants to be like everyone else all the time? I had to follow rules and orders when flying and when doing my military service, but their purpose was clear and well founded, so no problem.
        Traffic rules? Yes, in built up areas I follow them, but on an open, empty road? Not always.
        Social rules? Well sometimes breaking them can be the source of so much fun it would be shameful not to go against the grain, as long as doing so doesn’t harm anyone else. 🙂

  2. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    I tend to be a rule follower, and I would certainly obey the types of rules posted above. I don’t think I’m an idiot or incompetent. Sometimes I follow them simply because I don’t want a ticket or to have my car towed. I would be upset at people that don’t follow them because they think they’re special. We’ve all been in that situation–for example, if you’re not supposed to have a cell phone on, but there’s that person who thinks it doesn’t apply to him or her.

    I would like to believe that I’d have the courage to break laws that are unjust or discriminatory.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Merril, Yes, indeed. Your cell phone example is a good one; I sometimes think those folks just don’t think, period. Or that following the rules “just this once” doesn’t matter (Like the photo in Laurie’s post on rules).

      At the same time, I can relate to Ian’s comments in that I have often driven through a red light when it’s 2 a.m. and there is no one around. We see/know the rule; we think; we make a choice; and we live with the consequences. I’m OK with that. But it does take time and energy.

      Except when I’d make a choice different than another person (like the one with the cell phone, or the one parked illegally in the handicapped zone when I’ve got my friend in the wheelchair with me …)

  3. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    I hadn’t noticed that the rules given at the top of Camel’s Hump start with the reason for them. I like that. Perhaps that’s what made following them so easy, and so welcome. I hadn’t known the vegetation at the top was fragile. (Actually, there wasn’t much up there; maybe too many other dogs have run loose). I had never been to the top before. Knowing the reasoning behind the rule does make a world of difference. So, I wonder now, “why do we follow rules when we don’t know the reason?” There’s an implied social contract involved, it seems to me. I’ll follow this rule, because I hope that you will follow another one … Are there rules in your life that you follow blindly?

  4. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Ian, I imagine you keep your friends well entertained.


  5. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Interesting question and conversation, Janet. it’s amazing what one hike can yield! I tend to be a rule-follower..except when I’m not. Understanding and buying into the rationale behind the rule does make a difference. My willingness to bend the rues depends what’s at stake. For example, when I divorced my first husband, I was told I couldn’t receive the Holy Eucharist at Mass. I chose to ignore that rule as did the priests who handed out communion and all was well. If it has to do with physical safety, I would abide. Rules are meant to be broken or at least questioned. And sometimes, whether I agree or not, a rule must be followed, i.e, stopping for a red light, wearing seatbelt Then there are the unwritten rules..basic rules of common courtesy, like shutting off your cellphone in a meeting,etc. In answer to your question, should rules be followed blindly? I like Merrill’s statement: “I would like to believe that I’d have the courage to break laws that are unjust or discriminatory.” Thanks for a stimulating discussion.

    • Janet
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy. Thanks do much for adding your example. It’s a great one. I’m not sure why exactly, but in reading your comment I’m reminded of something a tour guide in Boston once announced. “The red lights in Boston,” he said, — and we both use traffic lights as a typical rule to obey — “are merely suggestions.” Wish I’d remembered that when writing this post originally.

  6. Shirley Hershey Showalter
    | Reply

    There are rules and then there are rules. Like Merril, I would try to obey the one above. Protecting the good earth matters to me, and I would see no downside in obeying. The way the sign explains the rule’s purpose matters.

    I’ve been a protester of various rules or public policies.

    And I’ve taken some shortcuts or skirted some edges with rules. Sometimes wisely, sometimes not.

    I like the Seventh Generation test as a rule. Would that all of us had done a better job with that one.

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