The System of Rules


Rules, rules, rules...

When I get anxious, I find comfort in reading descriptions of my Meyers- Briggs personality temperament. It’s a compulsion, but not a completely irrational one: it is nice to have the reassurance that my responses are perfectly natural and the reminder of what skills I have readily at my disposal.  It’s certainly not any worse than compulsively reading my horoscope, which I also do.

As an INTJ I like systems. I like to build systems because they make my work efficient and my life somewhat more orderly. They are, however, a lot of work. The world as a whole is a system more infinitely elaborate than I have the capacity to understand, much less manipulate, which is probably where a lot of the stress comes in.

Running seems to help. Lately it has been easier and easier to click over into a state of no-mind during exercise. Ironically, while my body is running my mind is wandering. Recently, I got to thinking about rules.

The rules of life are complex and unwritten and are different for every single person on the planet. Sure there are some areas of general overlap:  we are all born and we all die, we all obey the effects of gravity, we are all human. Beyond that, though, the rules become subtle very quickly: men creatures can tease other men creatures and it is good fun but women creatures tease men creatures and it is a form of humiliation. Light colored creatures get more deference than dark colored creatures which is a form of privilege. Beautiful creatures get much more attention than average creatures, which is a form of power. Young creatures get away with more mistakes than older creatures but older creatures get a lot more benefit of the doubt.


I think I got to thinking about this in response to racism. Or possibly sexism. I’m a white woman. Sometimes that comes with advantages and sometimes that comes with disadvantages. I can’t not be white. I can’t not be a woman (and yes, I believe that transgender is a real thing, but it’s not my thing). These are rules that I just have to live with. They are just part of my system.

The thing is, though, that the rules are always changing on me. Every day I get older and the age rules change. Every pound I gain or lose affects how beauty norm rules affect me. Being employed affects me. Being respected affects me. Being healthy affects me. If life is a system then it is a system that requires constant tuning, and that running requires constant awareness. But what is my life tuned against? Is it some kind of music? Is it some kind of game? If it’s a game then how do you know if you’ve won? Everybody does in the end: how do you know if you can stop playing? Can you stop playing? What are we playing for? Power? Wealth? Comfort? Contentment?

So many questions.

Well, I may not be any more enlightened on the rules and/or the meaning of life, but I’ll certainly have more to think about the next time that I run.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 14, 2015.

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