The other day I was walking along the water in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. (I was playing Pokémon Go and heading to Photoville.) I ended up walking behind a small group of kids for a bit. As everyone knows, kids love breaking rules and otherwise being rude—I know that was my deal, at least some of the time—but rarely does a kid have the time for a moment of reflection.
There were rocks along the river that had a sign on them that read, “DO NOT CLIMB ON THE ROCKS,” a pretty standard warning for rocks at climbing height. One of the kids, around 12-years-old, looked at the sign. Under his breath—but loud enough for me to hear—he said, “I do the opposite, climb on the rocks.” Then, as promised, he jumped up on the rocks and walked on top of them for about three steps until he got bored and stepped back down to the sidewalk.
The kid was obligated to break any rule he came across. It wasn’t even fun climbing on those rocks but he did it anyways. Most amazingly, he was able to recognize why he did it. His personal adage was, “I do the opposite.” I’d like to think that for me, that might have been a discovery. I would have realized I was being held in my prison by the expectations put on myself. Maybe that is why the kid stepped off of the rocks so quickly. His inner monologue was asking, “Why did I do this? Who am I? Who do I want to be?” Maybe he thought about The Joker and decided he had to break his one rule (that he breaks every rule).
A man dressed in full subway construction worker gear sits down two seats away from me, with a woman seated in between us, and pulls out a Galaxy Note or some