Blur the Lines

I have been fortunate enough to a two week break, somewhere hot. After a hot day in the sun we would spend a couple of hours in the hotel room getting ready for Dinner. Whilst my wife was getting ready my Daughter and I would watch TV or, more often than not, do some colouring.

This blog is not about the therapy provided through colouring, although I’m aware this has seen massive growth recently for adults. In fact, now I think about it, I remember seeing a woman on the flight doing just this. She seemed in another world, concentrating on the geometric shapes and swirls as she scribbled away. It does intrigue me but not something I have explored yet – perhaps something for a future blog!

Anyway, back to the hotel room. As with most children they know what they want and are not shy in telling you what to do. It had to be the Princess colouring book and we were only allowed to colour certain pages (I neve found out why, even after pressing). I also could not choose my colour. I had to ask which pencils I was allowed to use, charming!

We settled on a page my Daughter liked and I started to colour in one of the main characters. Typically as an adult I was the picture of concentration, much like the woman I mentioned earlier, making sure the colours stayed in the lines. I glanced over to check on what my Daughter was doing and her scribble was everywhere. No uniformity, nothing in the lines and the slight OCD in me started to twitch. I attempted to correct her and she pulled the pencil away, making a little growling noise. She carried on with the messy colouring – this is what she wanted to do.

It made me stop and smile to myself as I realised the complete contrast in style, both literally (on paper) and metaporically. Our lives are governed by having to stay within the lines. There is constant pressure to never move outside them. I know people who are unhappy, because they are conducting their lives based on what they think others want and expect of them, instead of focusing on what they want and what will make them happy.

I know we have to have rules as a society – I’m not a savage. Discipline, order and routine are very healthy things to observe. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish we could all be a little less conformist and live the lives we want to lead.

We are taught from a young age to stay within the lines and this is because, when young, we are not mature enough in our thinking to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of our actions. When I was young I remember climbing up on to the toilet seat and reaching across for my Dad’s bottles of aftershave. I had no idea what was inside them but I did know that I wanted to play a game of pouring water in and out of the bottles. Of course, to start fresh, I had to empty the bottles first… To say my Dad was upset is an understatement. As we get older we appreciate why we should not play such games.

This idea of appreciating the rules, starting from the moment we can string words together, becomes deeply ingrained in our psyche and whilst there are many positives it also can hold us back.

You may know someone who goes against the grain. Someone who is independent, someone who creates their own path, someone who is leading the life they want to lead.

The difference between this group and the group restricted by the lines?


Everything is a choice, or at least the decisions you make are a choice.
You are completely in control of each decision you make.
This may make you feel uncomfortable and you may even disagree, but it is the reality.

The group working outside the lines know they may get bitten every now and again. They may flex a social rule or expectation and in doing so they may come unstuck. However this tends to be a rareity and in fact others simply look on, envious of the way they think, act and live their life.

I encourage everyone to go outside the lines, once in a while.
Do something unexpected, something spontaneous and change your way of thinking.

This may scare you, so the acid test is the answer to the following question.

‘Will my choice/decision matter in a years time?’

If the answer is no then go ahead and do it.

You may surprise yourself and enjoy moving into a different gear.

Don’t fear the lines.

Believe and take action.

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Ian Ruane

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