Barbara Emrys

The Rules of the Game

From the earliest days of our domestication we have learned to follow the rules of the human dream. Obeying the command of adolescent rebellion, we occasionally defied those rules and got hurt in the process. Maybe the lesson we learned over time was that it wasn’t worth the trouble and the pain to question authority.
Certainly, common sense tells us that we will pay an uncomfortable price when we disregard the laws of society and the laws of physics. There are great rewards, however, in committing acts of rebellion against the laws we put into place in our own heads. Awareness is one reward; and a mind aware of itself is a good custodian to the human body and to the dream that plays within it.
Most of you have already burned many pages in your own Book of Law. You have looked at the agreements made during childhood domestication and changed them, deleted them or diminished their power over you. Maybe you have become more relaxed and less fearful in the process. Maybe you’ve seen how impeccability carries you through self-deception toward authenticity in every moment. This is a tribute to you and to a wonderful teaching.
But there’s more.
There is a rule of law still in existence that requires you to be you. There is legislation still in place to make sure your dream looks a certain way, even if it means repeating patterns of failure and frustration or emotional highs and lows. You may think reality is actually created out of steel and cinderblock. Maybe navigating through your own dream feels something like taking the same commuter line every day instead of heading out on foot and discovering the wonders of nature. If so, it is you who chose to travel along a set route and obey road signs that can and should be disregarded. Who else?
You reached adulthood without challenging the rules that made unhappiness permissible, and you are now ignoring your right to repeal them. Listen to the way you describe your life. Notice how you turn familiar thoughts into absolute law and then insist that you obey that law. It’s a little like a child forgetting to put down the badge and the squirt gun after a game of cops and robbers. Our posturing was a game. The rules were temporary. We recognized the inevitability of transformation as children, but cannot see how our dreams reflect old rules, even now.
Being you was interesting, but was never meant to be permanent. You exist within this wonderful human being through your own insistence. You dream there and make contracts there. Put down the pen and the notary stamp and wander through life as an explorer. Be a joker and a wild card in your own dreaming. It’s a game. You get to play respectfully and rebel often – against your own rules.
Try it.

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