The Mystic Rules of Life

Janet Coburn
4 min readOct 29, 2023

I don’t have a corner on wisdom. Indeed, I barely have a corner on learning, around the corner and down the dusty path from wisdom.

I have, however, lived mumble-murfle years, and in that time, I have learned a thing or two. Maybe three, tops. Nonetheless, I have formulated what I like to call The Mystic Rules of Life. (Actually, I didn’t so much formulate them as accumulate them. I can’t claim that any of them had their origin with me. I sort of found them under the bed, communing with the dust bunnies, and claimed them for my own. But I digress.)

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here they are.

Everything should come with too much cheese. The corollary to this is that there is no such thing as too much cheese. My husband and I are the sort who, when we’re in an Italian restaurant and a server with a Parmesan cheese grater shows up and says, “Tell me when” reply, “Just crank that thing until your arm falls off.”

This rule applies to our own cooking. I’ve known us to use Parmesan, Asiago, and five cheese Italian blend in the same recipe. (Yes, I know cheese is binding. We have prunes for dessert. Or prunes and Metamucil. But I digress again.) Speaking of five cheese blend, that’s my favorite kind of pizza, although I also like pepperoni and mushrooms. I never get it, though, as Dan insists on all the meats and veggies the crust will hold. Five cheeses would probably cause catastrophic structural failure.

(By the way, this mystic rule applies to gravy, too. With mashed potatoes, not pizza. Pizza with gravy would be messy as well as unappealing. Until someone invents a mashed potato pizza, that is. I suppose this is another digression.)

It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. You may not get permission if you ask first. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get forgiveness after you do whatever-it-is, and that means the whatever-it-is will be an even bigger deal. But, as Kris Kristofferson noted, “I’d rather be sorry for something I’ve done than for something that I didn’t do.” (It’s amazing how often Kris is right about things. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” “The going up was worth the coming down.” “Jesus was a Capricorn.” “Everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on.” “If you don’t like Hank Williams, you can kiss my ass.” (A musical digression.))

Pee first. No matter what the next thing is, pee first. Going to bed? Pee first. Running an errand? Pee first. Seeing a movie? Pee first. Taking a shower? Pee first. Walking the dog? Pee first. It’s always best to pee before you commit yourself to any other action. You may end up in a place where peeing is difficult or, worse, impossible. Or one where you simply don’t want to pee. I have those dreams all the time where I’m looking for a bathroom but can’t find one, or at least not one I can use. It’s disgustingly filthy, has no doors, or is just a pipe in the floor without even an outhouse around it. (I usually wake up having to pee, but (so far) I haven’t woken up to find that I’ve wet the bed. I suppose that’s one circumstance when it isn’t better to pee first. Get out of bed? Pee after. But I digress some more.)

Gravity is not our friend. Sure, gravity keeps us firmly attached to the Earth. But when you consider the many ways gravity makes us fall down, it becomes more of a hindrance than a help. And I’ve experienced most of them. This Mystic Rule only applies on Earth, however. If you can make it to the moon, the gravity is only one-sixth that of Earth. That’s a lot more friendly. (Speaking of friendly, author Mary Roach once said, “Gravitation is the lust of the cosmos.” I have nothing against lust, but really, gravitation is the vacuum cleaner of the cosmos. Last digression for this week.)

You’d think that as I get older and (supposedly) wiser, I’d encounter more Mystic Rules of Life, but I haven’t found any lately. Guess I should look under the bed again, but I suspect that the dust bunnies (or, more likely by now, dust gorillas) have rules of their own that don’t apply to people.



Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at and