“Don’t play with matches.” “Color within the lines.” “Hang on to the kite string.”

On restless Sundays, I question if I’m restricting myself to internal rules I should have defenestrated 50 years ago.
As is true with everyone, I’ve collected beliefs and habits throughout my life. They appear as whispered orders tacked up on the walls of my brain. If I wish to change little behaviors that restrain my creative self, it helps to figure out where these inconsequential marching orders are coming from.

In part, I blame it on Dragnet, one of the TV staples I grew up watching. Detective Joe Friday would stare at the “hysterical dame” that had just been robbed and deadpan the line, “Just the facts ma’am. Just the facts.” As a kid I wanted to know so much more. Did she want to bite the perpetrator on his hairy arm? Was she the same actress, now with red curly hair, I saw as a blonde on last week’s Frosted Flakes commercial?

But Joe Friday just wanted the facts. No interesting tidbits, no gilding of the lily. Joe Friday was a guy who would put a kid like me in jail for letting go of the kite string.

I also blame Sister Mary Marie, my third grade teacher, for showing the whole class how I did not stay within the lines while coloring my chipmunk purple and olive-green. Then she paraded first grader, Janet Risdal’s, brown, perfectly in-the-lines squirrel as an example of an inspired artist.

Shouldn’t we each have been born with a Rigid Rules Disabler that frees us from childhood parental regulations, Joe Friday’s authoritativeness and former teachers’ inflexible grading systems? Our RRD would allow us to be more creative and self-nurturing, to have more fun.

We all know people who appear as if their life’s mission is just to meet everyone’s rules and expectations. That’s sad and, please, don’t let it be me. Let me uncover joyous little gems each day by staying clear of all that clutter.

At midnight, I’m going out on my front steps and lighting a whole box of red-tipped wooden matches just because I can.