Dying Daily #17: Shoulding All Over the Place

This will be a short one. There should be a lot more quotation marks, but I think they look obnoxious when you aren’t actually quoting someone so I left them out.

I do what I want.

Supposed to and should are dangerous. They tell us something is wrong, that something needs to be different from what it is, often without any sort of actual foundation.

I am writing this from my living room in the Texas desert, when I am supposed to be writing from the mountains in New Mexico. By the time I got everything wrapped up yesterday I was too tired to feel comfortable driving out, so I stayed.

I struggled with the decision, I have been looking forward to this trip. I came really close to pushing through and hitting the road, but I could not shake the feeling that it was a bad idea.

And we had a really fun night. I hung out with Barbara and Max and we watched The Nice Guys, which I really enjoyed. Max was wild and goofy and wouldn’t quit trying to lick my face. We had a blast.

But, if I had gotten focused on supposed to or should, I would not have enjoyed it. I could not have enjoyed it because it would have been wrong in my mind from the outset.

“I should be on the road right now.”

“I am supposed to be sleeping in the mountains tonight.”

A fun night with my family would have been poisoned from the very start.

I work with people a lot on cataloging and questioning their shoulds, because they often rule us with a sort of ghost authority. We believe we should be doing this and should not be doing that, but we rarely question why. They are often taught to us by our upbringing, culture, religion, worldview – all the things that provide us easy, seemingly unquestionable answers.

They do make decisions easy, but they also ruin a lot of things in life.

I am not saying we shouldn’t have principles or beliefs.

I am saying we should be free to question them and see if they are useful or not. We should be able to examine them and see what they are making us say and do to ourselves and others. We should try to see how many neutral or good things they are keeping us from enjoying.

I wonder where I got those shoulds from though. I should think about that.