Screw The Rules

How many of you out there remember when MTV still had M? Martha Quinn, Headbangers Ball, Top 20 Video Countdown...the good old days.

Personally I think the downturn happened when The Real World ushered in the age of "reality" television.

I remember back in those glory days of music television, one commercial that had a profound effect on me. So profound that I memorized the monologue spoken during the commercial. Picture a young man with a basketball looking pensive...I'll lay it out for you:

You know, you try to figure it out... Either you're exactly the same as everyone else Which is really boring Or you're so totally out there that you've got nothing in common with anyone Which is scary as hell. But there ought to be at least some way to find out the rules

(insert dramatic pause here)

Screw the rules.

(cue MTV guitar vamp)

This really spoke to me in my youth.

(still does, although I believe my perspective has matured)

I grew up in a small town...I was a bit of a loner. I liked sci-fi, I had the only Tony Hawk skateboard in town. I was one of the "weird" kids in my class of 46. I was one of the two kids in my senior class voted "class revolutionary."

In junior high, for a writing assignment, we had to choose a life motto, and discuss why we chose it...mine was "Create a disturbance." Even back then, I was of the mindset that people should unapologetically make their mark on this world. Of course that has gotten me into trouble occasionally...I figured out that I tend to be a boat rocker...with authority issues.

I am learning slowly that I can stay true to my disturbance creating nature without jeopardizing steady employment.

I remember the realization in college that in some cases, I truly feel that the rules don't apply to me. Whether this is leftover energy from the "screw the rules" mentality or something else, I don't know.

I also remember the professor of my first class as a music major. He was a funny little man who was a bassoon player. After a class where we had been talking about musical form and compositional techniques, I told him, "When I write music, I want to break the rules!"

He very simply said, "You have to learn the rules before you can break them."

It would be many years before I understood the wisdom in his words.

But I think the MTV commercial meaning of "screw the rules" is not simply a call to general defiance and disorderly conduct. I believe there is a deeper meaning to be found when one delves into the essence of the statement.

Part of it has come from the spiritual and societal awakenings that began in the 1960's. During that time, social constructs were questioned and many experiments began...remnants of those experiments can still be found today...commune anyone?

We see other throwbacks to those days as well...communities of free thinkers, co-ops of all sorts...hey, tie dye has become mainstream!

Here's the thing about the human mind...it LOVES to sort and order things. This was an evolutionary necessity. Imagine yourself as a hunter/gatherer...human consciousness is just developing and the world is a tough place to survive in. The evolving mind learns to identify and categorize things quickly: food, water, danger, predator, prey. This was necessary for the survival of our species.

Fast forward tens of thousands of years...now, the mind categorizes things, but the ego has gotten involved. Now, most of us categorize and judge things.

To say that an apple-tini is a beverage, or to further categorize, an alcoholic beverage is a mind function. Apple-tini is in the category of beverage, sub-category alcohol. THAT is the mind at work.

The ego comes along and says "Apple-tinis are girly drinks." (Thank you Dr. John Dorian!) The ego judges what the mind has categorized.

So when the youth in the 60's started examining the capitalist driven social structures of their parents and rejected those structures...the structures were judged "bad."

The adults of the era, used to conformity and established structure saw the long hair, free love, mind altering drug using counter culture as "bad."

The term "hippy" could have a good or bad connotation depending on which circles you were in.

Let me be clear that my perspective on this is speculation and interpretation. I was born in the early 1970's, so this hindsight extends beyond my own life time.

But by creating new standards of behavior, new rules were established while throwing out the old rules. A paradox was created.

Subcultures sprang up in multitudes after the 60's; each with their own rules.

One character we can look at for an example of transcending these rule governed subcultures is Ferris Bueller.

The 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the story of a unique high school student who decides to take a day off from school and the comedic efforts of the principal to catch him.

The charisma of Ferris Bueller was not bound by any one subculture. Grace, the school secretary, puts the subculture transcendence of Ferris like this:

Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motor heads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads...they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.

Ferris is a singularity in that he is not bound by the rules or definitions of any one subculture.

Then we consider one of my refrigerator magnets...it says "You non-conformists are all the same."

As we raise the banner of non-conformity with "Screw the Rules!" as our call to action, we look around and see that everyone is doing the non-conformist thing. Similarly to the person who says "I'm crazy", isn't, the person who identifies as "non-conformist", isn't.

I had an epiphany in the early 90's when "Alternative" music was all the rage. I thought, "If alternative music has become popular and mainstream...then what music truly is alternative?

A few weeks ago, as I was contemplating my own journey, and the efforts of someone to categorize me, I came up with a quote:

I am not confined by anyone's definitions. Your limitations do not apply to me.

That's my mature perspective on "screw the rules."

I will still love that MTV commercial though.

I think what we are experiencing in the midst of The Shift, post end of the Mayan calendar, is not a paradigm shift, but the end of the paradigm itself.

Part of that is thanks to the ease with which information can be shared globally. But as a human culture, we are growing in ways never before seen on the planet. In the music therapy profession, there are some names that in my opinion have reached legendary status: Alicia Clair, Deforia Lane, Barry Bernstein and Connie Tomaino to name a few. They were pioneering research and developing best practice when music therapy was starting to take shape as a profession. They are still out there doing it! (Barry is no longer with us).

Now we have music therapists who are redefining the profession.

They are using social media and technology to reach a wider audience to support each other, educate and even provide services.

This group is not confined by the old definitions, not confined by limitations.

Technology is providing many of us the means to express our own unique perspective on the world, whether that is through app development, blogging, Skype music therapy sessions...the list is endless.

Our planet wide spiritual awakening is bringing us to a time where modern technology and ancient wisdom are learning to co-exist in ways never dreamed of before.

My advice to you my friends?

Remember that the paradigms no longer exist...create your own path.

While you're at it, create a disturbance.

Be undefinable...be limitless, and of course,

Screw the rules.