The rules

In Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott tells about the “five rules of the world as arrived at by this Catholic priest named Tom Weston.”

  • The first rule, he says, is that you must not have anything wrong with you or anything different.
  • The second one is that if you do have something wrong with you, you must get over it as soon as possible.
  • The third rule is that if you can’t get over it, you must pretend that you have.
  • The fourth rule is that if you can’t even pretend that you have, you shouldn’t show up. You should stay home, because it’s hard for everyone else to have you around.
  • And the fifth rule is that if you are going to insist on showing up, you should at least have the decency to feel ashamed.

Then she says that she and her therapist “decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”


7 thoughts on “The rules

  1. And we’re showing up and just making everybody feel??? Is this why so many people that used to talk to me seem to be avoiding me these days?

  2. Sorry to be confusing. I was only using half my brain, I guess. Fuller thought..
    Since we refuse to feel ashamed of being different, and we freely exhibit it in public, one of these days surely the people who try to keep others (us) trapped in convenient cages of pleasant conformity will eventually give up, won’t they?

    But in the meantime, I guess they avoid talking to some of us because it’s discomfiting.
    Or maybe I’m becoming anti-social and people don’t want to be around me?

  3. Ah, I understand better now, thanks.

    I’m still not sure what’s really required of us under “love thy neighbor” and the unity of the church; where natural affection (and lack thereof) is okay, and where we have to press on where affection doesn’t lead. Same goes, therefore, for what’s really required of other people toward us.

    It’s easier, though, most of the time, to accept it when someone has never particularly cared for us, than to accept when someone who has been close gets distant. (Oh, and then there’s those who are close to my friends, but not to me, even though it seems like there’s good reasons for them to be close to me, too. That can be hard.)

    Do you suppose most of the distance you’ve been experiencing is over the topics you pursue in conversation?


    Some of this stuff under “The Rules” reminds me of Job 3:25 saying “What I feared has come upon me,” the fear that if people know us as we really are, they won’t like us, and my late therapist Joe saying “Cringing evokes hitting.”

  4. Pingback: Lent | Becoming Three

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