We associate being dutiful with being safe – that’s how it worked at school. But once we are in the big world, too much of a concern for duty can be our downfall.
We start off in life being very interested in pleasure and fun. In our earliest years, we do little but hunt out situations that will amuse us, pursuing our hedonistic goals with the help of puddles, crayons, balls, teddies, computers and bits and pieces we find in the kitchen drawers. As soon as anything gets frustrating or boring, we simply give up and go in search of new sources of enjoyment – and no one appears to mind very much.
Then, all of a sudden at the age of 5 or 6, we are introduced to a terrifying new reality: the Rule of Duty. This states that there are some things, indeed many things, that we must do not because we like or see the point of them, but because other people, very intimidating authoritative people who may be almost three times our size, expect us to do them – in order, so the big people sternly explain, that we’ll be able to earn money, buy a house and go on holiday about 30 years from now. It sounds pretty important – sort of….