Just this weekend I had the rare opportunity to go the golf course with a dear friend and play 9 holes.  This cool and gray Fall weather is a beautiful time of year to be outdoors and enjoy the changing landscape.  The course we played was drenched from former rain fall.  There was a “cart path” requirement in effect so the greens wouldn’t get further muddied and the course was fairly empty.

My golf skills leave a lot to be desired.  I was once told by another dear friend who was also happened to be an excellent golfer, while playing the Tryall Golf Course in Jamaica, that I “drive like a hummingbird” and “putt like a gorilla.”  This probably explains why I enjoy teeing off more than any other part of the game.  The sound the ball and club make when they connect just right, is always familiar music to my ears.

Back to drenched course, I was actually driving the ball pretty well but struggling as usual with the rest.  But it wasn’t until my partner suggested I just make my own rules regarding using a “tee” or which club to use down the fairway.  She wisely said “We can make up our own rules today, let’s just have fun.”

Since golf is one of those environments where there are a lot of rules, this seemed like a revolutionary suggestion!  And I jumped at the chance.  We nearly had the course to ourselves.  But when we didn’t, we took a few minutes and let faster golfers play through.  We took our time finding the stray balls under the leaf covered grounds.  We dropped balls where we wanted to hit them from, or if we didn’t like our first attempt.  It felt so decadent to play for fun, and not much else.  It was a perfect day.

There are many roles and power dynamics that dictate the rules in our every day lives.  Without structure, our work and home environments would not survive.  In the medical world, broken standards of care can lead to negative outcomes including death.  On our public roads and highways, if we all abandoned the “rules of the road” we would not get very far until we collided with someone else.

But there are also times when we can make up our own rules.  In my example, I could have spent parts of my day criticizing my swing, wishing I’d been out more this season, gritting my teeth when I shanked one into the trees, or worm burned the ground with a short swing.  But choosing to play our game, our way allowed the spontaneity and sheer fun of the game emerge.  No self-degradation, no completion, just playing our own idiosyncratic game.

Have some fun and look for opportunities in your own life to make up your own rules.  Find an area that you follow implied rules that can be bent once in a while.  I don’t mean cheating on an exam or failing to file taxes, but just looking for an opening to non-detrimentally switch things up.  

Have dinner for breakfast.  Wear pajamas all day (one of my own personal favorites) or dress formally for football Sunday.  Sit in a different seat at the table, or declare a “non-work” day on a weekend, telling your family you are spending the day just being together.  And more radically, you can even call a “device free” zone (all phones in another room for a certain period of time.)

Doing these things can bring a silly, lighthearted energy to those times when we can just give “rules” the day off and be ourselves.  Rules are important, but so is free will.  You may surprise yourself and others when a little space is opened up for our lives to be “done” instead of controlling every aspect of “doing” our lives rotely and as expected.

If you have something cool emerge, please share it in the comments!  #rules-be-gone-for-today!

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