Are you someone who does almost everything by the book? Is there a rulebook in your life that you’ve been following but never questioned if it’s still serving you? Is that rulebook written by yourself or someone else? Do you believe in rules are to be followed or broken?
The world-famous Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming once said in one of rare TV interviews a few years back: If you look around nature, things come in all shapes and sizes, but nothing in perfectly square. It was such a profound statement. I literally sat in front of my laptop re-playing it in my head and trying to digest every word that came out of it. So powerful that it’s stuck with me ever since. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I guess I can call it a light bulb moment. In case you don’t know who Ju Ming is, of course you can Google him and find more information about his life on Wikipedia or his website. The reason why I reference him here is because it gives me a good starting point to argue that rules aren’t born out of nature, they are predominately man-made, crafted and created by individuals for specific purposes – like law and order.
Of course in our society, there’re regulations to be obeyed to, protocol to be followed though. No exceptions. All people are expected to be law-abiding citizens in all circumstances or they’ll face the consequences. Anything that is still unfair, unjust, unequal, it takes laws to change laws. We know the process can take years and in many cases, failures, setbacks, frustrations are not uncommon. It can be a whole new set of topic to discuss but for now, to a much smaller scale, I want to talk about what do we do about those rules in our personal lives. Are they helpful? Are they stretching you or limiting you? Ju Ming said, as a beginner you can acquire as many skills as you like when you’re learning. But in a creation process, you need to unlearn, stop thinking, throw away all the things you’ve been taught by others, do nothing but simply executing the work.
Researching on the topic has been a rewarding experience for me. I’m absolutely captivated by Jun Ming’s artworks and his philosophy of life. Even though you don’t consider yourself as an arty type of person, will find his artworks full of life and engaging to watch. I first heard of him when I was only a child but who would’ve thought two to three decades later I’d write a post inspired by him. So, back to the question of: Are rules to be followed or broken? Before I started to write this post, I thought I had a “right” answer based on my own presumption but after I’ve done more study of this subject, I’m going to surprise myself and say: I think it’s both.
If you’re an artist or someone who wants to pursue a mastery in your field, rules are to be followed when you first learn the basic techniques. Over time they will help you lay a solid foundation before you take your skillset to the next level. As you progress, rules are to be bent so they adapt to your unique personal style unlike and unmatched by others. Finally, when you execute your work, rules are to be broken or let go, so you aren’t bound by any preset concepts, thoughts or ideas, that’s when you produce something, a masterpiece truly your own. Sounds like an art? I think it is…